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Why Three Is The Magic Number?

By Richard J Oldale,
September 10, 2021

Have you ever noticed how the number three is consistently repeated throughout myth, religious scripture, sacred hymns and significant architecture? 

As Del La Soul noted: Three is the Magic Number.

In this article, I’m going to point out how often you find a trifold pattern built into the architecture of churches, temples, palaces, government and civic buildings. Along the way, I will explain why three is the magic number.

Then I have a challenge for you. Whilst you’re walking around the town or city in which you live, observe how often you find three doorways on the front of a building. Sometimes it will be a door and two windows, three archways, a triangle or pillars. 

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Once you start noticing this repetition of three built into the architecture, you will notice it more often – especially in “noble” buildings. 

Then ask yourself why. What is so important about this sacred number, what can you learn from it and why is three the magic number?

Below I have laid out a number of examples of where and how the symbolic three appears. Along the way, I will give a brief description of the symbolic meaning. If you’re interested in the esoteric meaning of numbers and symbols, understanding why three is the magic number will help you see the bigger picture.   

The Holy Trinity

In a recent visit to Budva, I visited the Holy Trinity Church in the quaint Old Town. The church naturally features patterns of three, but I found no obvious signs of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. That’s why it’s built into the architecture and artwork. Like these angelic figures above the entrance on the north side (I think it’s the north side). 

Angel mosaic

Along the Westside (I think) are a door and two windows – three entrances. There are also three bells on in the tower – a typical feature of Christian churches. Bells are symbols of awakening consciousness. When a bell resonates it symbolises pure wisdom.

Trinity Church Budva

Inside, there are three arches that separate the entrance of the small church from the main hall. The altar in the Chancel has three doors that indicate entrances or opportunities. To grasp an opportunity you have to be consciously aware of its existence. 

three doors in altar

You will note on the two outer doors that there are two archangels holding swords aloft. Swords are double-edge and have several meanings. A key meaning is that swords are thoughts that cut through the illusion of the material world

Above the altar is the principal work of art in the Holy Trinity Church. It features two serpent-dragons on either side of Christ on the cross. The sacrifice – sorry “crucifixion” – of Christ was the moment God becomes manifest in man – The Father and the Son.

This gives us some indication as to why three is the magic number. I will explain more below. All you need to know for now is that the image of Christ on the Cross belongs to the idea of Christ Consciousness.

3 is the magic number

The serpent-dragons are borrowed from the Greek myth of Cadmus and Harmonia. In esoteric symbolism, serpents and dragons are essentially the same things. I give a full account of their meaning in my interpretation of the myth of Cadmus and Harmonia

Don’t you find it curious that serpent-dragons feature in the entre-piece of a Christian church? Where do serpent-dragons appear in the Bible? They don’t. In Christian times, the serpent appears alone and is associated with Satan. This is a clue as to the real meaning of the sacrifice – sorry “crucifixion” – of Jesus.

Also, think about the medieval dragon-slayers.

Three is the magic number in the Budva Cemetery

Whilst wandering around Budva, I came across a small chapel in a cemetery. The repetition of three has been squeezed into as many spaces as possible. Below are the three obligatory doors on the altar. There is also the usual three bells hanging in the tower above. The chapel also has three alcoves built into the inner wall and three windows.

Altar Budva cemetery

three doors and windows

The last image above is of a house on the grounds of the chapel. It was probably paid for with church funds. Notice how there are three entranceways on the ground floor and three above. Okay, this could be a coincidence, but given the property belongs to the Catholic Church, it’s probably not a coincidence.

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous” ~ Albert Einstein

Thanks, Uncle Albi!

So why are we seeing three windows and doors everywhere?

The symbolic meaning of three doors and windows lean towards entranceways in which light can come in. The light of the sun represents enlightenment; Universal Consciousness. The same meaning is given to Christ Consciousness only the latter in Universal Consciousness in the mind of man.

So check this out.

In the image below, you can see the diagram explaining the circles and squares of human consciousness. This is a graphic representation of the development of consciousness on planet earth – the third rock from the sun which we perceive in 3D.

Click play and note how the third square is the first to breach the lines of the circle – and peer into the 4th Dimension? This is the point that is known in esotericism as Christ Consciousness. So you could say that Christ Consciousness is to see beyond the perception of reality.

Shall we go on?

Why is Three The Magic Number In Europe? 

Fancy a mini trip around Europe? You find the three all over the place like this church in Kotor Old Town, Montenegro:

St. Nicholas Church Kotor

Notice the formation of the three windows? It looks like this shape doesn’t it.

Rome, Italy

Here we have another clue as to what the three refers to. The motif in the centre of this shrine is Remus and Romulus, the warring twin brothers that feature in the story of the founding of Rome. As infants, they suckled from the teats of a mother-wolf, a caregiver archetype.

Suckling milk in myth is a symbol of “spiritual” nourishment. Another way to say this in non-spiritual language is emotional nourishment. Spirituality is a means of describing how we transform energy.

A “spiritual body” is an energetic body and “spiritual” development is self-development. Once you see past the illusion of religions and spirituality, you find absolute gold in the symbolism.

More about the later.

Romulus and Remus were the sons of the god Mars. He was held in high regard by the Romans who saw him as a savage warrior that is able to defeat opponents.

The Greeks, on other hand, portrayed his counterpart Ares with the negative attributes of the Warrior archetype that ran into battle without a strategy. His thoughts, emotions and actions usually ended in embarrassing defeats.

The mother of Romulus and Remus was a Vestal Virgin. It was unlawful for Vestal Virgins to have sexual intercourse so the twins were abandoned on a riverbank where they were saved by the god Tiberinus and nourished by a wolf – a symbol of Leto and her twin children Apollo and Artemis.

Leto, Apollo and Artemis were known as the “Delian Triad”. So the three at this moment appears as the Wolf. Romulus and Remus are the two voices you hear in your head when you’re caught in two minds.

The three is presented in many different ways through myth and culture. As a matter of fact, it’s not unusual to find a variety of triads in Greek mythology. For example, Persephone, Demeter and Hekate are the Eleusinian Triad. The Three Graces and the Three Fates were children of Zeus.

Let’s move on.

Elsewhere in Rome:

Arch of Constantine
The Victory Arch of Constantine

Arches and archways above doors. Why?

And again in Naples:

Three doors
Three Crosses Naples Catacombs

The three crosses in the image above can be found in the San Genaro Catacombs in Napoli. You will also find Les Tres Crux (Three Crosses) sites all over South America. Just saying.

Why is this?

Let’s go back to Christ Conscious and the sacrifice – sorry, crucifixion – of Christ. Jesus was nailed to a cross on the hill of Golgotha alongside two thieves.

So, that’s three people on the hill.

The thieves are the two eyes that take information in from the world around us. Jesus is the so-called 3rd eye – our built-in connection to Universal energy which we sense through intuition and see through the symbols that appear in our imagination and dreams – our sixth sense.

I’ve written more about the relationship with Jesus and the 3rd eye chakra in this article which is available to VIP Members. It explains the repetition of three found in the Passion of Christ myth.

But three is not the magic number because of its connection with the third eye. That is only a small part of its secret. The 3rd eye is essentially the mind’s eye which we use to visualise. Images are a way for us to consciously communicate with our subconscious.

“The unconscious manifests itself through a language of symbols. It is not only in our involuntary or compulsive behaviour that we can see the conscious. It has two natural pathways for bridging the gap and speaking to the conscious mind: one is by dreams; the other is through the imagination.” ~ Robert Johnson, Inner Work

Now we’re getting closer to why three is the magic number. That’s why it shows up everywhere. Even on buildings that are not connected to the Church.

3 doors
Three doors to the entrance of Budapest Parliament
Three doors also on a government building in Belgrade

And a museum in Madrid.

And a palace in the Old Town of Kotor.

The Victory Arch in Valencia, Spain

I could go on, but I trust you get the point.

So why is the three built into all these different types of buildings?

We find a clue in Freudian psychology. Sigmund Freud was arguably the first psycho-analyst to nail the link to the subconscious. His theories were a little way out, but it is widely acknowledged today that there are three aspects of consciousness.

Freud called these three aspects, the id, ego and super-ego. This is still a popular concept in mainstream psychology. Carl Jung’s theory, in my opinion, is closer to the Truth. Jung theorised the concept of the personal unconscious, Self and collective unconscious.

The difference between the theories of Freud and Jung is that Freud’s triad is confined to the body. Jung, however, seemed to think images appear in dreams from outside of personal experience.

Frontier scientists agree with Jung. It seems as though “Mind” extends beyond the body and is not confined to the brain.

You can associate the Self-ego axis with the Father of the Trinity. The conscious mind is the Ruler archetype and decision-maker. However, the conscious mind receives information from the personal unconscious (subconscious programs) and the collective unconscious (morphic resonance).

Jung defines the Self as the oneness of the collective unconscious. Therefore, in a way, he does not distinguish between the concepts of collective unconscious and Self. But in another way, we must distinguish them because we know that the Self is the superordinate regulating center in the collective and personal unconscious, and is a more decisive factor than the collective unconscious as it is constellated at a certain moment. This is because when the collective unconscious is constellated or appears in a constellation of a certain moment, it can be one-sided: for, at any specific moment, it might be overcompensating a one-sidedness in consciousness.” ~ Marie-Louise von Franz, Archetypal Patterns in Fairytales

In symbolism, it’s well-known the Mother archetype is associated with the unconscious. This would be Jung’s collective unconscious which bears a resemblance with Rupert Sheldrake’s hypothesis about morphic resonance.

This is your Holy Ghost. Holy means “wholeness” by the way. Or all. Everything. Everyone.

If you think about it, fathers and mothers have children. Like sons. So you can’t really have a Father and Son without a Mother. So Mother Mary has basically been replaced with the Holy Ghost that is said to have artificially inseminated her.

Or a dive, as you can see in the feature image of this article. Aphrodite is also associated with doves. Just saying 😉

The son, therefore, is the personal unconscious, also known as the subconscious. This is where retrievable memories are stored – including habits, cravings, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions etc. We can reprogram our subconscious mind with the authority of the conscious mind.

Remember I mentioned awakening consciousness at the top of the article. Sons, which are often princes in myth, represent awakening consciousness which requires developing to full consciousness. Sons (princes) replace their fathers (kings) on the throne.

That’s going to need a bit more explanation. Let’s continue our journey. This time to Asia. Three are popping up all over the place there as well. Who’d have thought!

Symbolic Meaning of Three in South-East Asia

Hindu traditions worship the Trimurti; Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. These three Supreme Deities are known as the destroyer, creator and preserver respectively. They are often found represented by three temples or chedis like the example below at Banteay Srei in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

3 temples Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei, Siem Reap

The nicknames of Trimurti are significant in understanding the hidden meaning of the three. What is destroyed, created and preserved?

We find the answer to that in the Law of Thermodynamics – a universal law supposedly discovered between 1850 and 1906ish. Seems “primitive” ancient civilisations worked that out way before the scientists of the “Enlightenment Age”.

The law of thermodynamics basically says, energy does not disappear, it transforms. To transform, the existing state of energy is destroyed and recreated into another form. It is then preserved in the state of matter.

Thoughts, emotions and actions are all energy. By changing your thoughts, emotions and actions, you can transform energy; which goes through the process of destruction and recreation described by the laws of thermodynamics – and the Trimurti.

Buddhism doesn’t particularly assign deities to its philosophies because the historical Buddha decreed he didn’t want to be depicted as an idol. The statues of Buddha these days are massive. They’re good for tourism, but few people are interested in looking for their inner Buddha.

The Holy Trinity of Buddhism is somewhat more revealing than the Christian ideology of Father, Son and Holy Ghost or the Hindu Trimurti of creator, destroyer and preserver.

Buddhist philosophy talks about the doctrine of the Trikaya; dharmakāya,  the Saṃbhogakāya and the Nirmāṇakāya. This doctrine is called the Three Jewels and is depicted in symbolism as two circles (the blue mosaic) and a vesica piscis encased in a flame:

Three jewels of Buddhism

The dharmakāya is said to be the “reality body” which is the conscious mind and thus corresponds with the Christain “Father”. The Saṃbhogakāya is said to be the divine incarnation of Buddha and thus relates to the collective unconscious or Mother, and the Nirmāṇakāya is the “physical incarnation of Buddha” which aligns with the God in Man, and thus the Son.

Together with the three jewels, the three features on the front of temples just as they do in Europe.

Thai temple
Buddhist temple in Thailand
Laos Temple
Buddhist Temple in Laos

They also have three doors on their civic buildings like this museum in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh museum

And you also find three entranceways in the temples of Vietnam which predominantly adopts the Chinese traditions of Taoism and Confucianism. Below is the entrance to the Imperial City in Hue.

Imperial City, Hue

Oh yes, I also found this outside the Imperial City in Hue.

Flag pyramid

You can see there’s a three stepped-level right? Take another look. Do you see a pyramid? There are 12 edges to a pyramid. In gematria, 12 is 1+2 = 3.

Makes you think of Egypt right. And let’s not forget South America.

Pyramid of Kuk'ul'kan

The church below in Argentina has a triangle and 3rd eye – double-whammy. And the third eye is in the form often associated with the Illuminati symbol on the back of the $1 bill. Just saying.

3rd illuminati symbol

Are you starting to think there might be a connection and reason for all this repetitive symbolism?

Because we have this in Argentina as well. It’s a Christian Chruch but the design encapsulating the Virgin Mary looks very much like the Three Jewels of Buddhism which has the Buddha at its centre.

Church in Cordoba, Argentina

Oh hello, and what do we have here?

These three stone mounds are in Bali. A somewhat random monument on the same grounds as a Ulun Danu Beratan temple. How curious.

3 pyramid mounds in Bali

What’s With The Serpent-Dragons?

Remember the two dragon-serpents pictured with Christ on the Cross in the Holy Trinity church in Budva. Well…

Dragons and sun

You find them in Asia too!

Serpents have a dual meaning. They’re poisonous so relate to things like irrational thinking, destructive behaviour, and negative emotions.

Whilst the libido – the sulphur, or the secret fire, lies dormant in the deepest, most concealed levels of the Unconscious, the tendency of the psyche is to portray that condition as a dragon or serpent.” ~ Israel Regardie, Gold

Snakes also shed their skin. For this reason, they are a symbol of transformation. In almost every culture the serpent is connected with wisdom.

Remember how the three explains the transformation of energy?

Self-development involves transforming energy from thoughts, actions and emotions that are poisonous to a perception of the world that is experienced with wisdom. Our Essential Self-Development Program provides you with various tools and insightful knowledge to cultivate wisdom.

This is why princes replace kings and good heroes defeat evil monsters in mythology. There’s much more to know about that concept, but I will save that for another time.

All you need to know for now is that if you listen to your inner wisdom (or if you’re consciously aware of synchronicity), you will get the knowledge you need from the depths of your unconscious, the “split-off” fragments of consciousness. (Read this article to understand split-off consciousness and how to re-member your True Nature).

The unconscious, according to Jungians, communicates to us in symbols that contain qualities that are common with the whole of mankind. When you understand how to interpret the symbols and numbers, you have an in-built navigation system that guides you through life.

The unconscious has developed a special language to use in dreams and imagination: it is the language of symbolism. As we will see you, and the work is primarily the art of learning this symbolic language of the unconscious…Jung has shown that by approaching the unconscious and learning it’s symbolic language, we live richer and fuller lives. We are beginning to live in partnership with the unconscious rather than at it mercy or in constant warfare with it.” ~ Robert Johnson, Inner Work

If you want to know more about why three is the magic number, together with the esoteric interpretations of other ancient symbols, download our symbolism courses.

When you purchase any of our symbolism courses (other than the Beginner’s Guide), you also get access to the VIP Members Area where you can deepen your knowledge of how to understand the meaning of symbols and use them as a self-development tool.

It’s worth noting at this point, that the courses of Master Mind Content deal with esoteric wisdom and not exoteric symbolism. The difference between esoterism and exoterism is that the latter can be misleading whereas esoteric symbolism guides you to a useful conclusion.

Do you want to understand the secret language of numbers? Team up with Master Mind Content for a full, in-depth Number Symbolism Course. You will learn how numbers can help you make decisions with confidence and improve your quality of life.

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Richard Oldale
Master Mind Content is a leading authority in decoding ancient symbolism . Our research unveils the secrets to understanding and taking control of the the subconscious mind, channeling energy to self-heal and effectively using universal laws to fulfil your potential.

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