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The Symbolism and Spiritual Significance of the Number Three

The Spiritual Meaning of Numbers
Tetragrammaton by Francisco Goya: "The Name of God", YHWH in triangle, detail from fresco Adoration of the Name of God, 1772
Tetragrammaton by Francisco Goya: “The Name of God”, YHWH in triangle, detail from fresco Adoration of the Name of God, 1772

Three is the first number to which the meaning “all” was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle and an end. The power of three is universal and is the tripartide nature of the world as heaven, earth, and waters. It is human as body, soul and spirit.

In the first three numbers, all of the others are synthesized. From the union of oneness and duality (which is its reflection), that is, from triad, proceed all of the other numbers, and from this primordial triangle all figures derive.

There is also, for traditional civilizations, a direct relationship between numbers and letters of the alphabet, to the point where, with many alphabets, numbers were represented by letters, and had no special signs of their own. This is not the case with the early American cultures, which knew no alphabet, but we wish to call attention to this correspondence because not only the alphabetical code, but the numerical one, as well, describe all reality: that is, everything that is numerable or namable–in the sense of “ciphers,” harmonious measures, “proportions”–in sum, the totality of the cosmos, of the knowable.

This threeness or triad, has always been considered sacred–like oneness, duality, and all numbers–by virtue of its very properties and particular attributes. These properties and attributes are manifested in its threefold nature, which of itself is the inevitable expression of a principle, an archetypal fact, that solidifies in a series, as a representation of ideas and energies that materialize in magical, mysterious fashion while obeying precise, universal laws, which the numerical codes and their geometrical correspondences symbolize.

Trinity Symbol
Trinity Symbol

This symbol a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit. The symbol is of universal significance – it is found throughout history and all over the world. It was popularized early in this century by the Russian-born artist, philosopher and scientist Nicholas Roerich. ( It can be interpreted in many different senses: spirit/mind/body in a circle of synthesis; past/present/future enclosed in the ring of eternity; art/science/religion bound in a circle of culture.


The oldest of Indian symbols, Chintamani, the sign of happiness, is composed of this symbol and it can be found in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It appears in the Three Treasures of Tibet; on the breast of the Christ in Memling’s famous painting; on the Madonna of Strasbourg; on the shields of the Crusaders and coat of arms of the Templars. It can be seen on the blades of the famous Caucasian swords called “Gurda” and on the swords of Japanese nobility.

It appears as a symbol in several philosophical systems. It can be discovered on the images of Gessar Khan and Rigden Djapo; on the “Tamga” of Timurlane and on the coat of arms of the Popes. It can be seen in the works of ancient Spanish painters and of Titian, and on the ancient ikon of St. Nicholas in Bari and that of St. Sergius and the Holy Trinity. It appears on the coat of arms of the city of Samarkand, on Ethiopian and Coptic antiquities, on the rocks of Mongolia, on Tibetan rings, on Buddhist banners, on the breast ornaments of all the Himalayan countries, and on the pottery of the Neolithic age.

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Trinity > History of Trinitarian Doctrines (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Partial Article, see full article in Source.

Many Christian apologists argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is “biblical” (i.e. either it is implicitly taught there, or it is the best explanation of what is taught there) using three sorts of arguments. They begin by claiming that the Father of Jesus Christ is the one true God taught in the Old Testament. They then argue that given what the Bible teaches about Christ and the Holy Spirit, they must be “fully divine” as well. Thus, we must, as it were, “move them within” the nature of the one God. Therefore, there are three fully divine persons “in God”. While this may be paradoxical, it is argued that this is what God has revealed to humankind through the Bible.

The types of arguments employed to show the “full divinity” of Christ and the Holy Spirit work as follows.

  1. S did action A.
  2. For any x, if x does action A, x is fully divine.
  3. Therefore, S is fully divine.

E.g., A = non-culpably pronouncing the forgiveness of sins, non-culpably receiving worship, raising the dead, truly saying “Before Abraham was, I am”, creating the cosmos. Continue reading Trinity > History of Trinitarian Doctrines (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

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John Davies – Notes From a Small Vicar

Trinity Sunday: Things Come in Threes

2 Corinthians 13.11-13Matthew 28.16-20

Queen Camel, Corton Denham, West Camel, Weston Bampfylde, 

Trinity Sunday, 15 June 2014

A joker once said this: “There are three types of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.” …

Have you noticed how often

Things come in threes?

Things come in threes in religion:

  • the Father the Son and the Spirit,
  • the amount of times the cock crowed,
  • Shadrach, Mesach and Abednigo.

Things come in threes when you’re shopping:

  • Small, medium and large
  • Buy two get one free
  • Three good meals a day

Things come in threes in your life story:

  • past
  • present and
  • future

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Trinity symbol

trinityTrinity is the term by which is expressed the Christian belief that there are three persons in one God. Christian doctrine holds that a) there is only one God, one divine nature and being. b) This one divine being is tripersonal, that is, three persons in one God, designated as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. c) These three persons are joint partakers of the identical nature and majesty of God. While this doctrine is a preeminent mystery of revelation, the believed revealed nature of God, transcending human or finite comprehension, it is considered essential to the understanding of the scriptures.

Even though the Trinity doctrine is implicit rather than explicit in the Old Testament, it is believe that with the accompanying knowledge of the New Testament, evidence of the Trinity can be found in the Old Testament (e. g., Numbers 6:24-26; Isaiah 6:3; 63:9, 10 the sanctity of the symbolical number three-the plural form of Elohim, also places in which the deity is spoken of as conversing with himself). This is thought to be in accordance with the gradual development of revealed truths in other particulars. However, the Hebrew religion of the Old Testament is emphatically monotheistic; a principle reason for this is thought to have been that such religious rigidity was that it provided a safeguard against polytheism.


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Celtic trinity knot

The Celtic trinity knot is a very simple, but powerful symbol and very suitable for a tattoo. It is a triangle knot, the 3 corners have various meanings:

  • Christian: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • Pagan: Mother, Crone and Maiden
  • New age: Mind, body and spirit

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The Holy Trinity

the Holy Trinity by Albrecht Dürer
the Holy Trinity by Albrecht Dürer – Click to Enlarge

Albrecht Dürer (b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

The Holy Trinity 1511
Woodcut print on paper made by Albrecht Dürer
399 millimetres x: 285 millimetres
The British Museum, London

The Holy Trinity, with the dead Christ being supported by God the Father in Heaven, crowned by the Holy Spirit, surrounded by angels holding the instruments of the passion; underneath the four winds blowing

The British Museum Catalogue entry for this piece states:

“’This … represent the pinnacle of Dürer’s achievement in the woodcut technique. In no other woodcut does he achieve such a subtle representation of shape and depth through using a system of parallel lines, cross hatching and dashes of varying degrees of density. Nor in any other woodcut does he use the white areas of the paper to heighten parts of his composition with such dramatic effect.

A massive painted copy of this print was used as the basis for the temporary decoration designed by Karl-Friedrich Schinkel for the Dürer festivities in Berlin in 1828 (see U. Kuhlemann, pp. 39-60). It was designed in the shape of an altarpiece, with the Holy Trinity in a tympanum above, and a sculptured effigy of Dürer with personifications of the arts below (see Bialostocki pp. 122ff.)’”

Dürer’s religious woodcuts established iconographic models would be widely disseminated throughout Europe and America over the centuries to come

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The Adoration of the Trinity

Adoration of the Trinity


DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)
Oil on lindenwood, 135 x 123,4 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


Dürer created this single panel altarpiece for the wealthy merchant Matthäus Landauer. It was for a chapel of an institution founded by the merchant.

The chapel was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The first sketch for the picture was made in 1508.

The artist depicts himself in the earthly zone in the manner of a secondary portrait.

The client is the only layperson portrayed in the group of clergymen on the left, and he is being received into the heavenly community by a cardinal.

It may be considered as the apotheosis of Durer`s work for the Roman Catholic Church.

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Pretzel – Trinity symbol




Pretzels have been around for almost 1,400 years. History has their origin about A.D. 610 when a baker in a monastery in southern France or northern Italy twisted leftover strips of bread dough into the shape of a person’s arms crossed in prayer, traditional posture for prayer in those days.

Monks began offering the warm, doughy treats to children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers. They were used to help children understand the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The three empty holes in the pretzel represented the Christian Trinity. The monks called these treats pretiolas, Latin for little rewards.

Queen Esther - King Ahasuerus

Queen Esther, King Ahasuerus

The little knotted treat wandered around a while and  became known in old high German as Brachiatellium, and then just plain Bretzel or Pretzel. Left: one of the oldest depictions of pretzels in the Hortus Deliciarum of 1190 showing Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus sharing a meal. The king is pointing at the ale cans and dart board not shown in the detail.

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Trinity symbol


This is a common, ancient, and basic ideogram for a high spiritual dignity. Continue reading Trinity symbol

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Trin’ity. Tertullian (160-240) introduced this word into Christian theology. The word triad is much older. Almost every mythology has a threefold deity. 1

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Cambridge and Oxford – Term time

There are three terms at Cambridge in a year, and four at Oxford, but the two middle Oxford terms are two only in name, as they run on without a break. The three Cambridge terms are Lent, Easter, and Michaelmas. The four Oxford terms are Lent, Easter + Trinity, and Michaelmas.

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