The Threes as “Feedback Loop”
In my reading I came across the assertion that the Two in tarot always represents an incipient action arising from the potential embodied in the Ace of its suit. (It shows the “first step” or initial outbound impulse that the static, self-absorbed Ace has only been pondering up to that point.) The imputed binary state of balance is really one of dynamic tension that emulates the steady rhythm of a metronome or a pendulum oscillating between two extremes, a principle conveyed by Aleister Crowley’s formula “Change equals stability; stability equals change.” This aligns perfectly with the Pythagorean theory that the number 2 represents the “line” in geometry; there is a distinct beginning and end to its field of operation, and movement along the axis — the “monad in extension” — from one end to the other is inferred. But this is usually a fledgling state of development that begs the question “What’s next?”
In less philosophical terms, the Twos describe a tentative venture away from “home base” that can dissolve into an irresolute “one-foot-in-and-one-foot-out” pendulum-swing that doubles back on itself in a welter of second-guessing rather than producing an unequivocal advance that exhibits staying power. This indecisiveness conveys the idea of choice that is often attributed to the Twos. (I like to use the analogy of the Clash song, Should I Stay or Should I Go? — “If I stay there will be trouble/If I go it will be double.”) It can take an outside force to shake things up in a way that instigates release from such recurrent, self-defeating vacillation.
As a cure for narrow-minded polarization, the Threes represent a sidelong perspective that enlarges the constricted viewpoint into two dimensions: the line becomes the plane, delivering an opportunity for broader experience along an expanding frontier. They offer a way to “get off the treadmill” and turn the corner into a new chapter that we, in our single-pointed fixation, didn’t see coming. While a mediating and reconciling purpose is evident in tripartite expressions such as “action/reaction/resolution” and “thesis/antithesis/synthesis,” I see it as a diagonal step away from binary “either/or” thinking into a more evolutionary mindset; it suggests the navigational concept of “triangulation” between three points that in a bygone era established an ocean-going ship’s geographic location. It also signifies the “final authority” in any judgement: the impartial third party in a binding arbitration or the “chair umpire” in a tennis match who sits above the action and presides over the line judges.
While contemplating the notion of an external arbiter, the idea of “feedback” crossed my mind in association with the Threes. Angular propagation is as far as broad-but-shallow planar development can go, so the number often represents a fork in the road with one way in and two ways out. It can either launch a healthy “flowering” into three-dimensional space in the Four (the geometric “cube”) that presents even more facets for creative exploration, or veer back toward its roots bringing acquired wisdom and fresh insight to any prospect for a new beginning, especially if progress in the current mode of going has been lackluster. There is no dishonor in recognizing that the “best-laid plans” have gone astray, and taking a step back to regroup. In human terms, this might appear in the form of some kind of intervention, which could be either constructively therapeutic (counseling) or destructively meddlesome (the classic “love triangle,” for instance). It’s a well-worn convention among tarot readers that all of the Threes embody the idea of three parties to a situation. Realization of this arrangement — particularly if it wasn’t planned — can amount to the sometimes unpleasant but always eye-opening “feedback loop” of the title.
Originally published at http://parsifalswheeldivination.wordpress.com on April 7, 2022.