Numbers, Their Occult Power and Mystic Virtues, by W. Wynn Westcott, , at sacred-texts.com
Photius observes that the Triad is the first odd number in energy, is the first perfect number, and is a middle and analogy.
The Pythagoreans referred it to Physiology; it is the cause of all that has the triple dimension.
It is also the cause of good counsel, intelligence, and knowledge, and is a Mistress of Music, mistress also of Geometry, possesses authority in whatever pertains to Astronomy and the nature and knowledge of the heavenly bodies, connects and leads them into effects.
Every virtue also is suspended from it, and proceeds from it.
In Mythology it is referred by Nicomachus to:
1. Saturn, Time, past, present, and future. 2. Latona. 3. The Horn of Amalthea, the nurse of Jupiter. 4. Polyhymnia, among the Muses.
Number being more increased by multiplication than it is by addition, the number 3 is, properly speaking, the first number, as neither the Dyad nor Monad are so increased.
It is a "Middle and Analogy," because all comparisons consist of three terms, at least; and analogies were called by the ancients "middles."
It was considered the Mistress of Geometry because the triangle is the principal of Figures.
With. regard to the Heavenly bodies, the number Three is important; there are 3 quaternions of the celestial signs, the fixed, the movable, and the common.
In every Zodiacal sign also there are 3 faces, and 3
decans, and 3 Lords of their Triplicity; and among the planets there are 3 Fortunes and 3 Infortunes; according to the Chaldeans also, there are 3 Ethereal words prior to the sphere of our Fixed Stars.
On account of the perfection of the Triad, oracles were delivered from a Tripod, as is related of the Oracle at Delphi.
With regard to Music, 3 is said to be Mistress, because Harmony contains 3 symphonies, the Diapason, the Diapente, and the Diatessaron.
Ezekiel xiv. v. 14 mentions 3 men who saw a creation, destruction, and a restoration; Noah of the whole world, Daniel of the Jewish world Jerusalem, and Job of his. personal world.
Note the Hindoo Trinity of Brahma, who consists of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; Creator, Preserver, and Changer: in India each has still a special sect of worshippers, who mark themselves with particular emblems; the Vaishnavas are much the most numerous.
The living were of old called "the 3 times blessed" (the dead 4 times blessed).
There were Three cities of Refuge on the East side of the Jordan: Bezer, Ramoth Gilead, and Gozan; and Three on the West: Hebron, Shechem, and Kedesh Naphtali.
Three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos.
„ Furies: Tisiphone, Alecto, Megæra.
„ Graces: Euphrosyne, Aglaia, Thalia, says Hesiod.
„ Judges of Hades: Minos, Æacus, Rhadamanthus.
„ Horæ: Hesiod says they were Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), Eirene (Peace).
Jupiter's thunder is "triformis." Hecate is always called "triple."
Neptune's spear is a trident, and so has Siva the Trisula.
Pluto's dog Cerberus had 3 heads.
There were Three founders of the Roman Empire: Romulus, B.C. 753, Camillus, B.C. 389, expelled the Gauls; and Caius Marius, B.C. 102, who overthrew the hordes of Cambrians and Teutons.
The Jewish Rabbis say that the Sword of Death has 3 drops of Gall, one drops in the mouth and the man dies, from the second comes the pallor of death, and the third turns the carcase to dust. See Purchas, "The Pilgrimage," 1613.
A letter Yod within an equilateral triangle was a symbol of the ineffable name Jehovah and was so used by the Jews. The moderns have pointed out that this form suggests the idea that they knew something of a Triune God. Other monograms of Jehovah were also triple; thus 3 rays, and the Shin, and three yods in a triangle.
Under the number 3 also we may in passing mention the Royal Arch sign, the "Triple Tau," three T's united: the manner of its explanation, and the ideas which it represents, are not fit matters for description in his work. Note also 3 stones of the arch, 3 Principals and 3 Sojourners; 3 Veils; and in the Craft Lodges, 3 officers, 3 degrees, 3 perambulations.
In the Roman Cultus, the number 3 is of constant occurrence, as for example see Virgil, Eclogue 8, The Pharmaceutria; the priests used a cord of 3 coloured strands, and an image was carried 3 times round an altar.
"Terna tibi hæc primum triplici diversa colore."
The Druids also paid a constant respect to this number; and even their poems are noted as being composed in Triads. It is not necessary here to enlarge upon the transcendent importance of the Christian Trinity. In old paintings we often see a Trinity of Jesus with John and Mary.
In the "Timæus" of Plato, the Divine Triad is called Theos—God, Logos—The Word, and Psyche—the Soul. Indeed it is impossible to study any single system of worship throughout the world, without being struck by the peculiar persistence of the triple number in regard to divinity; whether as a group of deities, a triformed or 3-headed god, a Mysterious Triunity, a deity of 3 powers, or a family relationship of 3 Persons, such as the Father, Mother and Son of the Egyptians, Osiris, Isis and Horus.
And again in the various faiths we see the chief Dignity
given in turn to each person of the Triad: some rejoice in the patriarchal Unity, some in the greater glory of the Son, and others again lavish all their adoration on the Great Mother; even in trinities of coequal males, each has his own special worshippers; note this especially among the Hindoos, where for example the followers of Vishnu are called Vaishnavas: to complicate matters too, in this case each deity has his female potency or sakti, and these also have their own adherents.
Under this notice of the Triad we may refer to the emblem of the Isle of Man, three legs united at the hips; this is supposed to have been derived from Sicilian Mariners at an early date, for the same emblem is found at Palermo in Sicily, and this design is there to be seen on an old public building. Sicily was anciently named Trinacria, from its three promontories.
Three is a notable number in the mythology of the Norseman: the great Ash-tree Yggdrasil supported the world; it had three roots; one extended into Asgard, the abode of the Gods; one into Jotenheim, the home of the Giants, and the third into Nifleheim, the region of the Unknown. The three Norns (Fates) attend to the root in Asgard: they were Urda—the past; Verdandi—the present; and Skulda—the future.
The Talmuds are crowded with quaint conceits concerning the Triad, and many are very curious.
The ancient Hebrews said there are three night watches, in the first the ass brays, in the second the dog barks, in the third the mother suckles her infant and converses with her husband.
He who three times daily repeats the 114th Psalm is sure of future happiness.
Three precious gifts were given to the Jews; the Law of Moses, the Land of Israel, and Paradise.
In three sorts of dreams there is truth; the last dream of the morning, the dream which is also dreamed by a neighbour, and a dream twice repeated.
Three things calm a man; melody, scenery and sweet scent: and three things improve a man; a fine house, a handsome wife, and good furniture.
He who is born on the Third day of the week will be rich and amorous.
Three despise their fellows; cooks, fortune-tellers and dogs.
Three love their fellows; proselytes, slaves and ravens.
Three persons live a life which is no life; he who lives at another man's table, he who is ruled by his wife, and he who is incapable from bodily affliction.
Orthodox Jews were very particular about the cuttings from the nails; a pious man buries them, an orderly man burns them, but he who throws them away is wicked; for if a woman step over them, mischance may follow. Moed Katon, 18. 1. The nails should be trimmed on a Friday and never on a Thursday.
There are three keys which God keeps to himself, and which no man can gain nor use; the key of life, the key of rain and the key of the resuscitation of the dead. Taanith, 2; 1 and 2.
The Jewish butcher of Kosher meat must use three knives; one to slaughter the animal, another to cut it up, and a third to remove the suet which was unlawful food; as pork is.
Three acolytes must attend the High Priest when he went in to worship; one at his right, one at his left, and one had to hold up the gems on the train of his vestment.
There are three parts of a man. The father gives the white parts, bones, nails, brain and the whites of the eyes; the mother gives the red parts, skin, flesh, etc.: while God gives the breath, soul, mind and senses.
The Sanhedrim could order as a punishment three degrees of Excommunication—separation for an undefined time, exclusion for 60 days, and execration for 30 days. Moed Katon, 17. 1.
The name of Adam is of three letters, A, D and M: these are the initials of Adam, David and Messiah, and the Soul of the first passed to David and then to the Messiah. Nishmath Chajim, 152. 2.
The Soul of Cain passed to Jethro, his spirit into Korah, and his body to an Egyptian. Yalkut Reuben, 9. 18. 24.
The Soul of Eve passed to Sarah, to Hannah the Shunamite, and then to the widow of Zarepta. The Soul of Rahab passed to Heber the Kenite. The Soul of Jael passed to Eli. Some Souls of pious Jews pass into the persons of the Gentiles, so that they shall plead for Israel. Some evil Hebrew souls have passed into animals, as that of Ishmael into the she-ass of Balaam, and later into the ass of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair. The Soul of a slanderer may be transmigrated into a stone, so as to become silent; and the Soul of a murderer into water. Emeh Hemelech, 153. 1. 2.
There are three causes of dropsy, depending on diseases of the breast, the liver and the kidneys.
There are three forms of coma, that is insensibility; due to brain injury, brain disease and brain poisoning.
There are three modes of death, beginning either at the brain, the lungs or the heart. Bichat, Physiologie.
One Zodiacal Sign, that of Scorpio, has three emblems; the eagle in the highest symbolism, the snake, and the scorpion in evil aspects only.
Astrologic Natal Figures are often erroneous by reason of the alleged moment of birth being incorrect: there are three modes of Rectification, two are ancient, the Animodar of Ptolemy and the Trutine of Hermes; and there is one modern method, the Natal Epoch of W. R. Old.
In both the Old and the New Testaments we find the Day was divided into three day watches and four night watches. The mediæval occultists divided the days into Planetary hours, the scheme of alternation occupied a week, 7 days × 24 hours= 168 hours, so 168 hours are divisible among the Seven Planets, each day beginning with its own different one; see Harleian MSS. 6483, and "The Herbal," Culpepper, 1814.
There is also another scheme in which the planets are related to a six-hour period by Ragon and Blavatsky.
Among the Brahmins there were three great Vedas; three Margas or ways of salvation; three Gunas, the Satva, quiescence; Rajas, desire; and Tamas, decay. Three Lokas, Swarga, Bhumi and Patala; heaven, earth and hell. Three Jewels of wisdom, the Tri-ratnas; Buddha, Dharma and Sanga. The three Fires being the three aspects of the human soul, Atma, Buddhi and Manas. There were three prongs of the trident, and three eyes in the forehead of Siva. Note also the 3-syllabled Holy Word Aum.
At the Oblation of the Elements in the Celtic Church, 3 drops of Wine and 3 drops of water were poured into the chalice. In the present Christian Church we notice 3 crossings with water at Baptism, 3 Creeds; the Banns of Marriage are published 3 times; and a Bishop in benediction makes the sign of the Cross 3 times.
In Roman Catholic churches, the Angelus Bell is rung three times a day, a peal of 3 times 3 for the heavenly hierarchies of angels: Pope John XXII. ordered that the faithful should say 3 Aves on each occasion.
In civil life the usher of a court 3 times repeats the warning Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, which word means "hear" or "listen."
Note also the emblem of the Irish nation, the Shamrock, which has a three-lobed leaf, the Oxalis acefosella.
The Trigrams of Fo-hi should be studied in "The Yi-King," a book of Ancient China said to have been the production of King Wan and his son, Kau. The great Confucius wrote a supplement to it. This book is a mystical work on Symbolism referring to Cosmogony, to Man, and to the purposes of life. The initial symbols are the Yang, male, and the Yin, female. Then follow 8 trigrams, formed of emblematical lines; they are:—khien, tui, li, chan, sien, khan, kan and kwan; each expressed by figures of one long and two short lines. Some say that one Fo-Hi invented these symbols. A later Mystic expanded the system into 64 figures, each composed of 6 lines of whole and half lines. With these were associated two diagrams formed of circles, named the "River Horse," and the "Writing of
[paragraph continues] Lo": these will repay the contemplation of modern occultists. Yang, male, is also associated with Heaven, the Sun, Light and 25 the total of the odd units. Yin, female, with the Moon, the Earth, darkness and the number 30, the total of the even numbers to ten. See "Sacred Books of the East"; "The Yi-King."