Throughout multiple systems you will find groups of three as dynamics of change and definition. These groupings of three are present in Astrology, Pagan Deity and Pantheons, Lunations and Solar Cycles, as markers of Time, Esoteric and Energetic Anatomy, Color Scale and more. The measure of each component of this three is generally one of minimal to maximum, each expanding upon the other and serving as bridge of transition.
The number Three itself conjures up the geometric symbol of the triangle. Each side supported by the other creating a space of base line and point arising from each of those ends. This allows for the multiple nature of the number three, given that there are within that shape the potential for 3 different base lines and three different points. Three is the result or product of interaction between two other forces. We begin with the singular 1- which seeks another to interact with resulting in 2. The 2- seek to create beyond their duality and the third is born, holding within its energy the sum total of both of its sources now coalesced and transformed to become a third force. It is this same action of creation that is present in the multiple forms this triplicity takes. I think of it as three phases of development; that of testing, tempering and ultimately transforming.
|New Moon||Full Moon||Waning Moon|
The Testing phase is that of trial and error. It is the place of beginnings that are not necessarily overt in the expertise that is recognized (note that I said recognized, not drawn upon). In the listings of triplicity that I presented, this is the spark of the Maiden and the Youth. Bursting to the brim with great expectations, boldness of execution and a catalytic flow that is fully opened and ready to make its mark towards change.
In the scheme of Time, it is the Past that propels us towards the present and ultimately into the future. It is the past to which we retreat when life offers an unfair curve or unexpected change that unsettles and disrupts our balance. We use the past as barometer of our worth as we seek the lineage and ancestral ties that we wish to claim as our own. And, as history has proven, the lessons learned within the past are not always heeded in the desire and enthusiasm to move forwards.
Within the discipline of Astrology, we see the testing principal play out in the form of its Cardinal Modality. This is the modality that offers the potential for whatever elemental correspondence its acts upon. Cardinal Earth is the turning over of the fertile ground to expose what potentially will come to fruition. Cardinal Air is that first breath of inspiration that hopes to take root in the intellect so it may become a manifest creation. Cardinal Fire is the first spark that must be carefully tended lest it be extinguished or spread uncontrolled leaving destruction in its wake. And, Cardinal Water provides the first stirrings of emotion so that desire may be set into motion and applied to a will that is just testing its mettle.
Perhaps, the most well- known triplicity is that of the lunar and solar cycles. We see the steady progression that the sun takes in any given day moving through its course and are held in the ebb and flow of the lunar cycles that flow through the monthly cycle. Dawn is the testing phase of the daily solar cycle. These are the moments of first light and the emergence from the darkness of the night. We are challenged with each Dawn to make the waking hours of the day productive. It is the point of testing our determination to stay the course and stand in awe at the beginning of each day seeing it as another opportunity to be more fully human bathed in the light of strength and power that also rises within us in synchronicity. The lunar cycle is that of the New Moon. The light not visible and the testing being that of trust that although you are unable to see the Moon in her glorious orb, she is there nonetheless and waiting for what inspiration and creative working you will ask her to join you in.
In the pattern of the Three this phase is the crucial starting point. And, if its withstands the test of all the filters, obstructions and false starts that serve to strengthen the resolve of natural flow of progression it gathers to itself all of the necessary tools that will support its expansion into the space of tempering.
I have purposefully used the word temper here despite the appearance of contradiction in definition of the word. To Temper by definition is to:
• To soften something
• Strengthen material
• Harden metal
• Tune (early keyboard instrument)
The energy in this mid space is one of refining and continuing what was begun. Here we find the Mother and Father aspects of the Goddess and God. There is the need to bring to harmony the impetuous energy of the Maiden and Youth and space of initial impulse. Youthful exuberance has given way to stability and firmer resolve. The task of this more mature role is that of softening those rough edges and strengthening what is viable. Nurturing and offering guidance are the responsibilities taken on as the dreams and aspirations that preceded it are brought to a state of fullness of expression.
When we speak of Time, the Present is held in the place of tempering. It is the present that holds us fast in its grasp and it is the present to which we always return after our wanderings down memory lane or anticipatory visions of what our future lives may hold. We learn to soften our expectations and harden our resolve as we know that age and time continue in their cycle no matter how we wish it to remain still and often what we believed to be wrought in stone has scattered like paper on the winds of change.
Astrologically, the Fixed Modality wields the force of tempering. Fixed Earth becomes the immovable mountain that offers up its rigidity to bolster and support as its cradles in the softness of her body. Fixed Air becomes the space of pause and refining the great thoughts and inspirations that want to pass through unnoticed. They are drawn into the eye of the storm where each can be calmly scrutinized and assessed of their staying power. Fixed Fire is the tempering of the will, hardening it to withstand the pressures of misdirected desire and softening it to be receptive and pliable in receiving the wisdom of the Higher Self. Fixed Water finely tunes our Soul so we may easily move into the depths of our own pain and suffering and emerge strengthened and in harmony with both our weaknesses and our strengths. This is the action of receipt and release, the ebb and flow of the waters and the comfort it provides like the gentle rocking of the waters of the great mother’s womb.
The phase of tempering within the solar cycle is one of the heat and relentless downpour of the noon-day sun. All is illuminated, with no space to hide the flaws that we perceive. The truth of our solar nature and the resonance within our bodies to this penetrating source is brought into attunement so that we may co-create the music of the cosmos. The lunation of Full Moon is the softening and breaking down of those barriers of reserve and doubt that we cling to. Our emotions are tempered by the loving touch of rays of pure light and energy that is expansive and contractive in its dynamics.
In the pattern of the Three, this phase of tempering and rendering more pliable and diverse in expression is the coalescing point. It brings in synthesis and harmonious balance those polarities that are brought into its cycle. It is the phase of standing perfectly poised and ready to accept the flow into transformation and change.
The last phase of the Three is both the result and what will become the cause that catalyzes the triune anew. The test has proved the energy to be viable. The tempering has imparted all that is needed to insure its strength of purpose and now the deeper work of transformation is required. The Crone and the Sage are the Deity that hold this transformative power. Their expression is one that has been honed through experience trial and error. They are the end product of that can only be brought forward through the work of willing sacrifice and the knowledge that surrender is the path of return. In the never ending cycle, it is the Crone and Sage who will transform into rebirth as the Maiden and Youth.
This is the phase of Future Time; always just one pace ahead and always knowing the outcome before the query has been made. The bridge of transition at this place of time is in the knowledge that what is the future is also the past and the present simultaneously, each replacing the other, each switching dynamics and place in a dance of complexity and grace. For it is always the future that gives birth to what will eventually become the past.
Astrologically, the Mutable modality is the transforming dynamic. It is this energy that stretches and expands, reaching beyond itself and then recoiling back to dip deeply into its source. Mutable Earth is the adaptability to change, reorder and draw upon all the resources available to craft a new form of expression. Mutable Air weaves the intricate patterns of complex mind and breathes out the answers to all who will listen and understand its intent. Mutable Fire spreads far and wide as it reshapes all in its path. It is vibrant and potent in its flame and its desire to connect and transmute. And, Mutable Water carries the weight of the lands and its creatures in its belly offering solace and healing to all who would venture into its waters.
The Solar cycle is one of the soothing of a sunset, spilling forth colorful and radiant yet gentle in its heat offering reminder that even those who shine the brightest must at times dim their luster so all may witness the Sun’s beauty. The Lunar cycle is one of waning light and movement back into those dark waters to retrieve the pearls that have been buried far beneath the surface. The excavating is done in trust that what is revealed will inform and enliven in a way that will carry the seeker gently on moving waters to a place of new birth and new form.
The Third phase is both endings and beginnings. For what has been transformed is not what was before. It is new. It is rebirth, and it is growth. If we moved through this cycle again, bringing forward all that we know if the first three, the power of the number six is revealed. It is the rebirthing of all of the work accomplished at the first level. It is the harmonious interaction between what was and what is becoming. And, if we take this one more step we arrive at the potential of the number nine. Three sets of triune cycle. Three levels of testing, tempering and transformation. Nine gates of opening and the number of initiation, endings, thresholds and renewal.
So, the next time you see the number three or one of its multiples, think about the many ways in which that simple number can impart its own wisdom and open your understanding to triune cycles as they flow through the magick that is our life’s work.
Note: This is the beginning of a series of essays looking at each of the aforementioned phases.