Three: The Number of Spiritual Wholeness


Every religion is based on the fundamental belief that it is possible for coarse, common, vulgar humanity to be transformed through a mysterious, sacred process into something special, valuable, beautiful, and lasting. Thus, there is a spiritual tradition of ascribing not two, but three aspects to the process of uniting our inner opposites, including our masculine and feminine sides.  
For example, Christianity has the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and ancient matriarchal religions were based on the triple Goddess of Mother, Maiden and Crone.  In essence, the third element suggests the new entity that comes into being as a result of the hierosgamos, the Sacred Inner Marriage.
The addition of the third element recognizes the psyche’s potential to grow out of its dualistic state of “twoness” into a transcendent “threeness,” a more spiritually wise and conscious way of being.  It represents our capacity to survive our initiations so as to develop a new way of honoring the quiet inner spiritual voice (i.e. the Holy Spirit or Wise Old Man) or the confident knowing of our deep, intuitive feminine wisdom, (i.e. the Wise Old Woman or Crone).  This means that the individual has discovered the aspect of God that dwells within every archetype, and has learned to listen to it and act on it with strength and integrity in everyday life. 
The following passage written by Jungian analyst Robert Bosnak in his book, Dreaming With an Aids Patient, describes the mysterious process that leads to three-ness as it manifests in the life of an individual who is committed to inner work:
“I’m reminded…of the image of marriage in alchemy.  Alchemists imagined the fusion of different metals into an alloy, a new metal, as a divine marriage where the king and the queen dissolved together in a dark stream of images.  They were reconstituted as a new being, a man-woman, a hermaphrodite, partaking of both sun and moon, gold and silver, the ultimate alloy. 
“The process the alchemists describe shows marriage [here Bosnak is referring to the inner marriage] as an ever more intensified struggle of opposing forces held together in a painful paradox.  This warring love leads to dissolution, in which the opposing forces fall apart and get a chance to reconstitute in a new form. 
“At one point, when the marital struggle has reached a point of frenzy—when the full force of the joint family neurosis has hit like a bomb—all that remains is the sense of burned-outness and death.  From all this darkness a new capacity for relationship emerges, hardened like a metal that has been switched time and again back and forth between the fire and the ice-cold water.  No living happily ever after for the alchemists.”
In other words, our ego’s determination to resolve the conflict between our conscious personality and a considerably intensified shadow which lives in a world of darkness can lead us to the depths, not only of cold depression, but of our lifeless souls. This same intolerable conflict is the catalyst that pushes us to find a way in which the two can live together; and if we can tolerate the fiery tension that comes with this search, it will launch us onto the path toward spiritual wholeness. 
“As within, so without.”  This is the same process that can transform an outer-world couple relationship, the topic of my next post.
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0 Responses

  1. A resolution of the tension of opposites creates a new, hybrid form – this is so uplifting, thank you Jean! It’s great to be reminded of Jung’s insights and always just when they are needed, I find. Synchronicity again! I love your spiral image as well, absolutely my favourite shape that has permeated much of my own writing for ages (I find myself doodling spirals everywhere and even based my current work-in-progress on the spiral motif). This triple spiral has so many deep meanings (I dont pretend to understand them by the way) and has such a celtic connection that I think you would love to see Newgrange in County Meath – if ever in Ireland it’s worth a visit (and has a lovely website too). Thanks again, this has given me much food for thought today 🙂

    1. You’re very welcome! Thank you for letting me know you found this meaningful! We actually did go to Newgrange several years ago, but arrived too late in the afternoon to actually drive out to the mound, so we toured the museum and got a pretty good idea of what it was about. Of course, the spirals were everywhere and they are strangely appealing. I wonder how much of it has to do with a sort of intuitive understanding of the double helix of DNA? I mean if the philosophy of ancient Hinduism spiritually intuited the Diamond Net of Indra (the connected web surrounding the world in which there is a diamond at each intersection which, like a holograph, reflects the whole web) 5,000 years ago, it’s not really a far-fetched idea! Some current physicists are essentially saying the same thing! Anyway, I have some spiral earrings I think might have come from the Newgrange museum shop! Ireland is such a beautiful, mystical place. I want to go back! Jeanie

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