Three is an important number in the tarot, and it signifies something important within the major arcana of the Rider-Waite pack of cards. There is a reason why the cards have certain symbols in a certain order. But before we can analyse the meaning of several of these cards we need to look at the importance of the number 3.

3 is a magic number, like the song by Bob Dorough. It really is a magic number in a mathematical sense as mathematics and magic correspond together for the ancients  The start of which was seen by Pythagoras  who saw the number 3 as a perfect number expressing the beginning, the middle and the end. He used it in music as with 1,2 & 4 to discover a principle of harmony. Over time we see three incorporated into children’s tales, goldilocks and the 3 bears, the 3 little pigs and the genii with 3 magic wishes. The trinity also features heavily in our culture, not to mention Christianity’s obsession with it. Freud’s  Id, ego and superego. Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory and paradise make up his divine comedy. The 3 primary colours, red, yellow and blue. Newtons three laws of motion. The 3 wise men and the 3 wise monkeys. The list goes on and on.

The significance of three in the tarot has been used to signify in a certain way three levels of reality. The underworld, the earth we inhabit at present and heaven. As we need 3 points to make a triangle, triangles can be used and have been used to signify male and female, that of mother earth(underworld) and father sky(heaven). The empress is the third card of the Major Arcana  she represents mother earth and she has been rightly been given the number of 3 to signify her. This will make sense once we consider the next two cards.

Mother earth

Mother earth

As seen in the card above, the symbols of fertility, the earth by water and dense vegetation  not to mention the Venus symbol, with spirit the circle on top of the cross, matter. The empress is mother earth. Now if we multiple 3 x 3 we get 9. And 9 is the antithesis of 3.

The 9th card is the hermit.

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Father sky

The youth of the empress can be contrasted with the old age of the hermit. He has a long white beard, holding a staff with a hexagram light in his lamp. As discussed in an earlier blog, there are plenty of 6 symbolism within the hexagram which is the next number we shall address. The hermit is on the highest peak, looking down at humanity, much like Nietzsche’s Zarathrusta. The height of the mountains symbolising divine wisdom or knowledge. He can be seen to be like Diogenes of Sinope, with his lantern  Going through the streets of Athens in the middle of the day with a lantern asking ‘have you seen an honest man?’ Diogenes represents wisdom here with the lantern and with it he is bringing light to the world. Illumination  by throwing light for others to see. Light has been used in the past to symbolise knowledge, as without it we would be left in the dark. The hermit is father sky, as he towers above the world, pouring forth understanding and knowledge through his lantern. He is the end as he is an old man, while the empress is the beginning, as she represents fertility and birth. The hermit represents old age and the end of life.

Between 3 and 9 is 6. Which is the lovers in the major arcana.

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The union between mother earth and father sky

The lovers represents perfectly the union between mother earth and father sky. She is positioned on the left, representing in liner time the past, the birth, the beginning, and the number before 6. Father sky is positioned to the right representing the future, old age and the end. The trees behind them represent the tree of life, the kabbalah. with the serpent round the tree of knowledge for the woman. who also represents eve. The flames behind the man, representing Adam are 12 flames of passion. Interestingly 12 (flames) divided by 4 (red apples  = 3. and 4 divided by 12 = 0.333. The angle above gives form to the trinity. With the light above them symbolised by the sun they are being illuminated  They are becoming enlightened. With the angle above and the male to the bottom right and the female to the bottom left, they symbolise a trinity, of several forces coming together.

There is a reason why the lovers are represented by the number 6. Have you ever noticed the similarities between the word six and the word sex. In Latin ‘six’ was spelt as ‘sex’, and ‘sexus’ (sex) was seen as the ‘state of being either male or female, gender’ (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=sex&searchmode=none)

This is deliberate, sex and six are the lovers. This is the ultimate act of creation, to become like the gods to have sex and take part in creation. But the number six is a number that unites 9 and 3. And it unites them in such a way that the gut and lusty feelings of mother earth are combined with the intellect and wisdom of father sky by the heart, the lovers.

Love unities the mind and the body. We can see this in an illustration by Robert Fludd.

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Robert Fludd – Man’s Fundamental Duality

This picture is a symbolic representation of the three main faculties of the human being.

Man’s Fundamental Duality
‘A simple diagram shows how in man the divine fire diminishes as it proceeds downwards, while the intoxicating vapours of sensuality prevail. Man’s loftiest faculty, the higher mind (Mens) receives the direct rays from God. Below are the regions of intellect, the point of balance at the heart, and the elemental realm of the appetites whose base and nadir, for Fludd, is sexuality.’ (Joscelyn Godwin – Robert Fludd).

We can find Plato’s tripartite theory of the soul in this diagram and the symbolic meanings of the empress, the lovers and the hermit in Fludd’s diagram as well.

Plato’s theory of the soul has three parts.

eros

thumus

logos

The base and heavy feelings that we have, like hunger, pain, and lust is eros. This is represented by mother earth. Thumus is love, the feeling that is shared between two individuals  that in essence binds the universe together, it is the emotive feelings from the heart that unite the dualities of eros and logos. Logos being the wisdom, and the intellect.

If we give a location to these faculties we find that Logos belongs to the head, like the number 9 it is close to the divine number 10 but is a digit short. Thumus is the spirit the heart of the matter. It is located were the heart is. Below the heart we find the genitals and the stomach. This is where we find eros, the gut feelings of lust and hunger. It is where all our animal instincts are founded upon and acted from.

Three is a Magic Number

Peace symbol

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Peace symbol

There is a great irony behind the peace symbol. Its history is one of conflict and bloodshed. The modern use of this symbol was used by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. It was commissioned by Bertrand Russell and designed by Gerald Holtom. According to Wikipedia ( or inaccuratedia ) It consisted of the semaphore sign for ‘N’ and ‘D’. Its popularity caught on in the 1960s with the hippie movement and has remained popular ever since.

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Semaphore ‘N’ and ‘D’

The cross as we know it today is at least 2000 years old. It’s numerous names are the Teutonic cross, Nero’s cross and St Peters cross (the latter has been used to symbolise Satanism in recent years). The peace symbol is based on the broken arms of a crucifix. when a fire destroyed Rome in 64 AD, (the official account of this can be found in Tacitus’s The Annals of Imperial Rome). At the time there was speculation that Nero caused the fire, which lead Nero to blame the Christians as the scapegoat for the fire. Nero used the peace symbol on his coins, with a eagle. The result of this persecution lead to many Christians being tortured, I suspect mainly with crucifixion.

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Nero’s cross on his coin

It is interesting to note that the Pythagorean’s used the reverse of this symbol as a sign of life. It has also been used as a Teutonic rune to mean death. The death rune can be seen to mirror that of the life rune. The life rune looking like that of a tree branching out. While the death rune is like the roots of a tree with no branches. This could be interpreted as the dualities between life and death, death the underworld where the roots of the tree of life (kabbalha) are kept.

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Kabbalah tree of life

Perhaps this is a combination of heaven (father sky) and the underworld (mother earth). And perhaps humanity is the bridge between these two worlds, as this is also often protrayed in symbolic forms of the kabbalah.

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Humanity – the bridge between heaven and the underworld

The teutonic runes of life and death make sense as a symbol of a tree when we take into account Yggdrasil, the world tree in Norse mythology. ‘This ash tree’s trunk reached up to the heavens, and its boughs spread out over all the countries of the Earth. Its roots reached down into the Underworld’ (http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/ash.html).

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Yggdrasil – the branches of heaven, the roots of the underworld

In this light we are able to understand the symbolic significance of trees used to depict life and death in runes, but more importantly we can understand why the Peace symbol is one that has a history linked with death.

Triangle symbolism – an interpretation

The triangle is a particularly interesting symbol, not only does it play an important role in occult symbolism it has several layers of meaning that are hidden within it.

The equilateral triangle has been used to symbolise the four elements and in another sense the four suits in the tarot. The triangles with their points facing up are masculine and the triangles with the points facing down are feminine.

the four elements

In the above picture we see that air and fire are pointing up while earth and water and pointing down. The reason for this is that earth and water are earthbound. While fire and air are above the surface of the earth. The triangles for air and fire point to the sky, father sky, while earth and water triangles are pointing to the ground, mother earth. In John Marco Allegro’s The end of the road, he describes why we have father sky and mother earth and not mother sky and father earth. The reason being that the ancients saw the spermatozoa (sperm) in the form of rain that impregnated the earth who would bear the fruits that had been seeded from the sky. From this perspective we can understand why the triangles point as they do.

An incomplete triangle has only three sides, we get the equation of 2 divided by 3 = 0.666…

This is also called a chevron.

chevron

This could symbolise an incomplete initiation to a certain order, or most likely a mortal. As the  trinity of the three sided equilateral triangle symbolises perfection, as it is believed to be the first geometrical shape created by God. It is also a powerful number as it can be used in rhetoric  three examples are given, three has been widely thought to be a magical number.

Now let us apply this knowledge to the set square and compass symbol of freemasonry.

set square and compass

To analyse symbols within logos and architecture one must look for the simple shapes and lines that are within a symbol. If we look above we see two chevrons over each other. One masculine and one feminine  There is a G placed in between them. There is funnily enough three main reasons what the G stands for, For the layman – Geometry, for the initiated – God, and for the select few – Generative. Simply put sex, as this is the ultimate act of creation, the male and female overlapping is a symbol of sex. Interestingly enough we can apply this knowledge of triangle symbolism to gain a hidden understanding of what is meant.

female on top of female

Once you begin to see logos in this light it makes things very interesting. For example the Scientology logo.

male in male

This appears to have some homosexual implications. Perhaps I overstepped my boundaries in interpreting these logos, but I can’t understand why they would use these triangles in the way they do.

The star of David is another interesting symbol.

Star of David, Hexagram, seal of solomon

It has 6 triangles around a hexagon. Each triangle has 3 angles each of 60 degrees.

An equatorial triangle has three angles,

triangle equilateral

triangle equilateral

60, 60, and 60.

The angles within the hexagon are 120, if you fold each triangle into the hexagon you will find they fit perfectly.

hexagon with six angles, each 120 degrees

each triangle of the hexagram fits in perfectly into the hexagon

The sacred space inside the 6 triangles  is the seventh space. This is highly significant as 7 means divinity. Seven is seen throughout the bible as a number of completeness  which humans are short of divinity by a single digit. Notice that the hexagram has three triangles pointing up with three pointing down. I can only speculate but I imagine this has something to do with a ritual of some kind  that is only symbolised through the use of the hexagram. Which is made of two larger triangles  male and female in the act of creation, that creation being the seventh space. The hexagon which as it is at the centre of all of the space means that during the act of sex we take part in the act of creation, we become like gods.

References

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread208687/pg1

Medieval Number Symbolism by Vincent Foster Hopper

The End of the Road by John M. Allegro

Recomended sites

http://www.whale.to/b/symbols_h.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqNSpstBA3I

http://thefreemanperspective.blogspot.co.uk/2008/11/freeman-perspective.html

How to Make a Poor Man’s Stove

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poor man’s stove

As this is my first time making this kind of stove, the steps I provide for building one are only a ruff and ready guide. with practice you will find short-cuts and additional knowledge that will improve your stoves, this is just a quick guide to show you how easy and cheap it is to do.

You will need:

1 small can (a tuna can will work fine)

a volume of wax that will fill the small can (left overs from used candles are perfect)

a few strips of corrugated cardboard

an old bowl and a pan

a stove

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wax, corrugated cardboard and a small can

1. Clean the small can and remove the lid, next cut some slices of cardboard that will be able to fit inside the can. The height of the can can be measured against the cardboard and then cut out a strip of that width of cardboard.

2. Next roll up the strips of cardboard into a spiral, and pack them densely into your can.

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tightly packed cardboard in a small can

3. After packing the can as tightly as possible, break up your wax into small pieces and remove any candle wicks.

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break up your wax

4. place your wax in a small bowl, this bowl is going to get messy so make sure its one that your not to fond of. Boil a cup of water in a pan, keep the water on a low simmer and place your bowl of wax in the water, so that it is floating on top of the water, not in it! Paraffin is flammable, so do not microwave it!

5. Once all your wax has melted, carefully, and I mean carefully lift with bowl out of the pan of water and pour it into the can. Wear thick gloves or use a towel to do this, you do not want to get wax on you as it will burn. Have the tin nearby by so you have as little distance to spill it as possible. Then leave the wax to set.

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poor man’s stove

Now you have your very own poor man’s stove. What is brilliant about this stove is that it can be made entirely out of waste products, and works well. This would make a great substitute for a gas stove for camping.

How to make Dandelion root coffee

Taraxacum Officiale, The Common Dandelion

 

You would be surprised to find out how delicious some of your garden weeds taste, dandelion root coffee is no exception. It is full of Vitamin A, B, C and D, not to mention it has rich amounts of zinc, iron and potassium.

Ingredient: A large handful of dandelion roots

equipment needed:

chopping board

sharp knife

pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius

optional – food processor and pestle and mortar

1. First dig up 20 or so large dandelion plants, if you are wanting to make a jar full you will need to pick 40 + roots. This may seem like a lot of bother, but if you have a garden you can do your weeding by collecting the dandelion roots.

2. Wash the roots thoroughly, don’t worry if you can’t get off all the dirt, as long as you have got the majority of it off so it wont taste like muck.

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washed dandelion root

3. Chop the root into small chunks.

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chopping dandelion roots

4. Put the roots in a food processor until it is is finely chopped, alternatively you can chop it up finely yourself, this would take longer.

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finely chopped dandelion root

5. Scoop out the chopped roots and scatter as best you can on a tray. And place in a pre heated oven set at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes  after 15 minutes shake tray to make sure all parts of the roots are evenly being roasted.

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dandelion root scattered on baking tray

6. After the roots have been roasted you can either place them in a jar and use them as they are, or ground them up using a pestle and mortar.

Wagner’s Valkyries

A Valkyrie by Arthur Rackham

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing Wagner’s Ring Cycle. This mighty orchestral piece is a collection of some of the most powerful and moving pieces from Wagner’s four operas that make up his Der Ring des Nibelungen. The arrangement by Henk de Vlieger manages to take a total of 16 hours of music and cut it down to 70 minuets  Its an incredible experience to listen too. One is able to understand why he attracted such strange personalities like King Ludwig II of Bavaria, a mad king who spent Bavaria’s money on building fairy tale castles. Another Wagnerian was Baudelaire who was an early supporter of Wagner’s music. There is something so powerful about Wagner’s music, that it seems to permeate every part of your body. I can understand why some would say his music is overbearing or exhausting, as a friend said yesterday, listening to Wagner is like doing a marathon, it can either thrill you or drain you. Either way the Ring Cycle is a fascinating piece of music, as it touches loosely on Wagner’s version of the Nibelungenlied, which is based on the Scandinavian epic , the Volsunga Saga. This is a long tale about heroism and tragedy between two families, the Volsungs and the Nibelungs. A brilliant summery of this saga can be found in Thomas Bulfinch’s Mythology.

Act III in Die Walküre, opens with Ride of the Valkyries. The Violins mimic the sound of wings fluttering in the wind, as the brass instruments carry forth the strength of the waves, with the mighty clash of the symbols of the thundering roar of the storm. The Valkyries are warlike virgins, dressed in armour with spears and helmets  The they ride forth throughout the night picking up fallen heroes from battlefields, their flickering armour creates the light for the northern lights. Their name, Valkyrie means “Choosers of the slain”. In Wagers version of the Volsunga saga, Wotan, an Norse god, uses the Valkyries to entice men to fight each other so that once they have fallen, they may be chosen to came to Valhalla and fight in an epic apocalyptic battle.

Butterflies – a symbolic transformation

Inachis io – The Peacock Butterfly

Butterflies have been used extensively in culture to symbolise a transformation. This is seen through a butterflies metamorphosis while insects like dragonflies and grasshoppers go through an incomplete metamorphosis, this consists of three stages (egg, nymph and adult) while butterflies go through four stages (egg, larva, pupa and adult). The four stages of the butterfly can represent a symbolic death and rebirth when the caterpillar (larva) builds their tomb like chrysalis (pupa). The transformation is a fantastic one, were the butterfly completely dis-resembles its earlier form.

Butterfly symbolism can be seen in the Rider-Waite tarot cards, specifically in the Sword suit. The metamorphosis may symbolise the gradual evolution of our thoughts throughout a period of time, developing and progressing to a final goal. Or perhaps in a spiritual progression, were the butterflies metamorphosis represents the material and dog eat dog caterpillar, whose focus is entirely on consumption. The caterpillar is slow and bound to the earth, yet its symbolic pupa is a temporary death before the soul (adult butterfly) may escape from the material cares of the caterpillar. Perhaps there is a connection between butterflies and the sword suit by the element of air associated with the swords. As butterflies are able to fly. 

The etymology of the term butterfly is derived from Old English buttorfleoge. literately meaning butter + fly. There are several theories for the words origin:

1. Butterflies or witches disguised as butterflies would consume butter and milk.

2. Butterflies had wings that had a similar colour to butter.

3. Butterflies excrement is the same colour as butter.