Resuming this series, we now encounter the Threes of the traditional playing card deck. As a forewarning, this piece will probably get a little esoteric as the primary message of the threes is mutability, change, and transformation. In esoteric circles, three is considered the “Mistress of Geometry” and represents the first solid of sacred mathematics. Similarly, as a near universal, mythologies across the world share sacred associations with three: the Holy Trinity of Christianity, the Three Fates of Hellenic and Scandinavian lore, the points of Awen of the Celtic tribes, the Trimurti of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu in Hinduism; and many others.
Threes are the combined realization of the Aces and Twos in solid form; as such the Threes bring up real transformation and existence of physical objects apart from the intellectual things of the Aces and the communicative things of the Twos, even when they are physical documents. The Threes can refer to the primal, nuclear family unit of mother, father, and child; a boundary or enclosure; past, present, and future; changes in physical living and working spaces; growth, and small crowds or company. In some situations, the Threes can indicate the start of foundations which will later be more fully actualized in the Fours, as well as the breaking down of old situations into their primordial elements.
The Three of Diamonds combines the transactions and exchanges of the Two of Diamonds and indicates the physical foundations of a venture, whether it be putting money on (or under!) the table, getting the a loan or small sum of money, or physically moving into a new shop or new job. It’s the foundation of a good venture and getting your foot in the door of an opportunity. Esoterically, the Three of Diamonds can be equated to nothing less than the fulfillment of the rubedo process in alchemy which represents defines the fourth and final major stage in the magnum opus of the alchemists. Symbols used in alchemical writing and art to represent this red stage can include blood, a phoenix, a rose, a crowned king, or a figure wearing red clothes.
From the Two of Hearts, the Three of Hearts represents the blossoming of love and inspiration to all things of beauty after being inspired to undertake a new opportunity such as the proposal for marriage or taking up a new aesthetic discipline. It can also represent a flower given to your loved one or going on a date and all the wonderful things that bring lovers closer together. In some instances it can represent a love triangle which when modified by a Spade or Club could be seen as undesirable or an unwanted complication, but when modified by a Diamond can be beneficial, especially for those who may desire a little more spice in their love lives. Esoterically, the Four of Diamonds represents the citrinitas process in alchemy. Here citrinitas stands for the dawning of the “solar light” inherent in one’s being, a realization of wholeness or, in the language of French mystical philosopher Louis-Claude de Saint Martin, the voie cardiaque – way of the heart toward reintegration.
Three of Clubs takes the letters or invitations offered from the Two of Clubs and finds the querent getting dressed up for the occasion, whether it be to a new place of work or social engagement. It can also mean accepting a small promotion, a raise or small bonus, or collaboration. Three of Clubs can also represent unexpected luck, a successful small gamble or winning game of chance, and general street savviness. The Three of Clubs, esoterically considered, represents the albedo stage of the magnum opus which represents a purification of perspectives and knowledge, wiping the mirrors of perception so that one no longer “sees through a glass, darkly”.
In the Three of Spades we find the mysteries of death and transformation. The Three in the Spade suits are heavy and final, the metaphorical nail in the coffin of a situation or final straw in an already negative situation – it is slow suffocation, and can represent depression, a worsening of a misunderstanding, and confusion. It can also represent an opportunity to “quit the darkness and seek the light” as is commonly admonished in Masonic and esoteric lodge organizations. It can be equated to the nigredo stage of alchemy which represents putrefaction or decomposition. Far from being a negative, it is the first step in the pathway to the philosopher’s stone all alchemical ingredients had to be cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter. More pragmatically, it’s taking the shit that’s accumulated in and around your life and turning it into fertilizer for the future.
Going forward, as with the Aces and Twos, the Threes can be said to represent periods of time. Three hours, three days, three months, three years; the third hour of the day or night, Tuesdays, and so forth. The Three of Clubs specifically can be said to represent Spring, specifically the Vernal Equinox, as well as the month of March in general.
When combined with other cards, the Threes mutate or transform the meanings of the cards they’re in relation to. For example, if a Three of Hearts shows up between a Club or a Spade, it can indicate an office tryst or affair or nursing an old wound and making progress toward something better. If four Threes show up consecutively, it can be indicative of mystical fulfillment or experience, achieving an initiatory pinnacle or adept-hood, working perfectly in balance with the elements. When three Threes show up together, it can represent transformation for the better or for worse when the Three of Spades is present – effectively a dark night of the soul. Two Threes together can represent a fraternal organization, a church or temple, the start of a new phase of spiritual or educational process as well and healing.
The Threes are the paradox of being in action, taking the amorphous and making it real as well as transforming or transmuting the physical and material into something more complete to whole. As each Three in the four suits represents a process in the magnum opus, each card individually is itself a whole containing the three primes of Salt, Sulfur, and the resultant Mercury. Here we are also reminded that while we are physical beings in constant transformation, we are also whole unto ourselves and should take solid measures in all our work toward fulfillment to recognize that primal and original beauty we all have from birth as our fulfillment is each of our birthrights as we are brought into this world.