Michael: I thought I would put this here on the three yin and three yang as I can use pictures to illustrate. It is kind of confusing. I don’t recall that anyone has put this together like this before –
In a word, when the three male figures appear in a dream or folk lore it portends EXTRAVERTED possibilities - a plan or a discovery which the person will bring to the world - for the dreamer. When the three female figures appear in a dream if portends INTROVERTED potentials. But dreams are not hard architecture – things come down the river – they are simply standard patterns or universals.
For example, when Abraham is met by Three Visitors – they are often pictured as angels – it is a task that he has ahead. He is sent to build something of a tribal/spiritual nature. Likewise when Jesus is met with the Three Magi. You see this in folk lore all over the place and even in pop culture. (In The X Files, Fox Mulder, the seeker, is advised by the Lone Gunmen who, in one of the last sequences, fill in at Scully’s “alien birth” as the Three Magi.) Charles Dicken’s has a perfect expression of this in his story A Christmas Carol in which Marley is met by three specters in dreams. The ghosts let him change his life in a positive way and begin a new program.
The Three Sisters, on the other hand – an archetypal characterization of the Triple Goddess – always appear to take the dreamer on a journey of inward discovery with no particular use to a tribe or a group. Although later it might be of use, because a group’s avatar may learn cosmic secrets there. Greek’s Three Muses,
So in each grouping it is Three – three male or yang and three female or yin. This forms a circle of opposites, much like the tai chi emblem. But the tai chi has a tiny opposite in each of its two regions. The Three Males can be seen as the standard Quarternity anthropologists talk about, when you add the fourth element, Psyche to it - in the West, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Mary. Psyche is the element which is “not present” – it is “on the other side.” But it is the Unconscious which informs the Three Males in their world of business. If you look at this as a sphere with two halves, the single woman representing Psyche contains – on the other side - the Three Sisters. This is how we always talk about Quarternity in the West – Seinfeld is a Quaternity, Frasier is a Quaternity and The Wizard of Oz is a Quaternity.
I had never heard of a Female Quaternity before but it seemed apparent in that the Three Sisters form such a pattern just as the Three Celestial Males do. The great history of the Triple Goddess is Robert Graves’ The White Goddess who wrote of Britannia’s mythic Earth Mother tradition. The Christmas holiday descends from the Winter Solstice celebration of the Earth Mother culture and there you find the fourth element, the opposite male figure. Every Winter Solstice the Earth Mother gives birth to a boy child, the Sun King, later configured as the Christ Child in the Christmas tradition. This holiday has such resonance perhaps because it is deeply embedded in the human psyche. As mentioned, Arthur is the Deathless Child – the child of cosmic essence – in Britannia, but Taoism, a yin culture, also has basis in the Three Sisters – the Yellow Emperor who founded ancient China is said to have awakened from three goddesses.
There may be some studies of this but I haven’t found any. If you group these elements as figures, the three males and the three females on opposite sides of a circle would give you the 12 of the zodiac – each has a dual face, light and dark (earth and water for the yin elements, and air and fire for the yang elements). But if you make a circle of each three plus one in opposition – two sides of four – then you get a circle which quite resembles the tai chi – each half contains a little of its opposite. You also get an octagon – an eight-sided figure which in Taoism is called a Ba Gua – it is the circle with eight stacks; the emblem of the Dharma Initiative on Lost, and the symbol of the I Ching. It contains the totality of human psyche and impressions in this realm.
If you look back up at the top you can see that the fourth element is actually present in the first image of the Three Magi - it is the star in the upper right handed corner which they seek and it is an eight-cornered star.
I'm probably the only one but I find it interesting that the picture which inadventently became the symbol of an era; Julian Lennon's child drawing called Lucy in the Sky, also has a eight-cornered star in the upper right hand corner.