Articles

The Threes: Tarot Card Meanings


You are watching Video 3 in a series called
Tarot Card Meanings with Benebell in which you will learn three traditions of interpretation:
the Tarot de Marseilles, circa 1400s, Rider-Waite-Smith from the early 1900s, and the Thoth Tarot,
created in the 1940s, alongside the deck I designed and illustrated, the Spirit Keeper’s
Tarot. This video lecture is on the Threes in the
Minor Arcana. On the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the Threes correspond with the sephira Binah.
This is intuitive understanding and deductive reasoning. Your Mother Consciousness is what
empowers. Crowley describes the Threes as “the fertilization of ideas.” Where Chokmah would be knowledge received,
corresponding with the Twos in tarot, Binah is knowledge you’ve developed, built upon
previous knowledge attained. In that sense it is the development and fruition of knowledge.
It is the womb in which understanding is formed. Let’s start by recalling the Two of Wands
from our previous video. In the Tarot de Marseilles, the Two of Batons was a sign of fortune, although
it also implied opposition, obstacles that you’ll first need to overcome, and tensions.
The Three of Batons is a sign of enterprise and here, progress is assured. Your course
of action will go as planned. The Marseilles Three of Wands represents an undertaking,
a commercial engagement, trade and commerce in motion. When the card appears in reverse, you’ll
need to look at adjacent or neighboring cards in your reading spread, because reversed,
it’s about hoping, desiring, or attempting something, and that something will be denoted
in the neighboring cards. In the Rider-Waite-Smith, where the Two of
Wands denoted artistic or scientific developments, the Three of Wands denotes commercial development,
industry, trade, exchange, and the nurturing of business dealings or merchantry. Where the Two of Wands was about beginning
and about to undertake a venture, the Three of Wands is about the work having been done
already and now you’re waiting for your past labors to bear fruit. Reversed, there may have been a miscalculation
or you counted all your chickens before they hatched– but, good news—here’s the thing,
if things were going badly before, then the Three of Wands reversed means things will
turn up and go well, that this is the end of your troubles, toil, and disappointment. So, basically, there’s an inversion of luck
here. If things were good, the Three of Wands reversed indicates there may be problems ahead.
If things were bad or disappointing, then the Three of Wands reversed indicates that
the end of your troubles and physical pains has come. Smooth sailing ahead. In the Thoth, both the Two of Wands and the
Three are indicative of dominion, though there is a more assertive, domineering force driving
the Two, whereas in the Three of Wands, will and dominion are virtuous. This is the card
of moral excellence, righteousness, and the Three Graces of theological virtue: Faith,
Hope, and Charity. In the Three of Scepters of the deck I created,
the Politic is what you do, how you negotiate within your Dominion. This is politics, when
what you do impacts others and so personal matters become of public interest. If The
Two of Scepters was about discernment, then the Three of Scepters is about the policies,
actions, and influence or impact that comes after or from your discernment. In reverse,
we see political power or social networking used in a manipulative or destructive way,
where there may be bad faith at play. If you’re a tarot nerd watching this and
taking notes, then pause here and do what you need to do. And here are the card indications in reverse. Where the Two of Cups in Marseilles indicated
love, friendship, and amity, the Three of Cups is about an emotionally fulfilling triumph.
When the Three of Cups shows up, it’s an all-around all-purpose positive omen: there
will be an outcome in your favor. Things are looking good for you. This is divine assurance
that pursuit of relationships and happiness yield fruition. Moving from the Two of Cups in the Rider-Waite-Smith
to the Three of Cups, here we see maidens in a garden with cups lifted above their heads,
as if pledging to one another, Waite tells us. This is a great card that signifies healing,
happiness, victory, and gives comfort and consolation after you’ve experienced misfortune
or sorrow. To me, this card signifies a joyous social occasion among those loyal to each
other. It is also about celebration and success that fills one’s emotional needs. The Thoth Three of Cups is titled the Lord
of Abundance. This is love that fulfills and yields fruition. Note here symbolic imagery
of the Three Graces. Together, the three Graces of Greco-Roman mythology are known as the
Three Chárites: Aglaea or Splendor, Euphrosyne or Good Cheer, and Thalia or Festivity. I
would even say you see the Three Graces, Splendor, Good Cheer, and Festivity personified in the
RWS and the SKT Three of Cups. The Three Chárites are also connected to the river Cephissus,
near Delphi. With the astrological correspondence Mercury in Cancer here, we also see healing,
emotional wellness restored, and the gift of prophecy, given the reference to Delphi. In Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, three priestesses
stand by the waters. They’re scrying in to their chalices and symbolize the maiden,
mother, and crone. This is a card of fellowship, strong and loyal bonds within a tribe or clan,
and an omen of jubilee, celebration, and occasion for rejoicing.
And here is the write-up of the card indications for those of you taking notes and chances
are that’s exactly what you’re doing or thinking of doing, because if you’re watching
this kind of video lecture on the Internet, come on who are we kidding, you’re a glorified
nerd. Pause here if you need more time. Reversals to come in the next frame. And here are the card indications in reversed.
If you don’t read with reversals, these reversed or ill-dignified indications of the
Three of Cups can still come up in your reading if the neighboring cards seem to be weakening
or thwarting the forces of the Three of Cups. Heavy Fire cards, because Fire and Water are
in opposition, such as the Seven, Nine, or Ten of Wands can trigger the ill-dignified
or reversed meanings of the Three of Cups, even when reversals aren’t physically observed.
Pause the video here if you need more time to finish up your notes and resume when ready. I want to re-emphasize the Thoth Three of
Wands corresponding with the Three Virtues in comparative analysis with the Three of
Cups corresponding with the Three Chárites. The Three Virtues are theological based from
Catholicism: Faith, Hope, and Charity. These are the three facets of you, yes, we all have
these three facets inside of us, that are Divine, that make you Divine, and represent
the virtuous exercise of willpower and dominion. This is about how you choose to act, how you
choose to respond to events and circumstances. This is the Lord of Virtue because observance
of the Three Virtues leads to virtuous living. The Three Graces are personifications of facets
of charisma. While who the three Graces are vary depending on story, let’s work with
this popular listing: Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia. Or: Splendor, Good Cheer, and
Festivity. The Graces represent the divine pleasures of life, what makes life beautiful
and worth experiencing. This is the Lord of Abundance because experiencing the Three Graces
are what convey to us a sense of abundance. There’s a clear philosophical interrelation
between the Three of Wands and Three of Cups here, which I hope comes through in the Spirit
Keeper’s Tarot deck. Now on to the suit of Swords. Pictured on
screen for now is a pictorial review of the Twos. Turn your attention to the Tarot de
Marseilles. In the Two, the center ornamentation is an eight-petal flower surrounded by eight
stems and eight leaves, further framed and guarded by four flower buds. Flower: happy,
positive symbolism, right? So simplistically speaking, our interpretation of the Two of
Swords in the Marseilles was happy and positive. In the Three of Swords, the center ornamentation
changes into a rather large sword that extends vertically across the length of the card.
Here, the suggestion is conflict, quarrel or argument, and a sign that something is
about to break or burst. There is a breach of peaceful relations, meaning what had been
good is now being disrupted or corrupted. In the RWS Three of Swords, we see the iconic
three swords piercing a red heart, beset with rain and cloudy gray skies. Waite’s indications
for this card stay rather true to MacGregor Mathers and echoes what we said for the Tarot
de Marseilles. In Pictorial Key, Waite tells us, um, duh, the imagery here is so self-explanatory,
there’s no reason for me to write more about this card meaning. Isn’t it obvious what
this card means? So. There you have it. Moving on to the Thoth deck, study that Two
of Swords, let the colors make an impression on you, and appreciate the sacred geometric
symmetry here. Now take a look at the Three of Swords and compare this card with what
you just saw in the Two. Asymmetrical lines, a darkening of the green and golds to black
and gray, and three petals falling from the pierced flower blossom. Take a close look
at the hilt of the primary sword and you’ll see a serpent coiled around the handle, reminiscent
of the Orphic Egg. The symbology prophesies the birth of a Messiah or one who will bring
about salvation. This reinforces what Crowley writes in the Book of Thoth about this card:
this is the Mourning of Isis, which is what you’ll see depicted in the SKT Three of
Swords. The spirit residing in this card is the Lord of Sorrow, and Crowley describes
it as indicating Weltschmerz, a German term meaning to be world weary, to feel that this
physical reality is disappointing the ideals of your mind. It’s being weary, melancholic,
and sad about how much evil and suffering there is in this world and feeling helpless
to it. This is the sorrow lamenting the human condition often felt by the highly intellectual,
the curse of knowing too much. In the SKT deck, we recall how the beloved
husband of Isis, Osiris, was murdered by his brother Set. Osiris is the symbol of order,
while Set is the symbol of chaos. Chaos dismantles order. Isis goes on a quest to re-assemble
her husband, to restore order, and only through a magical healing spell she learns from the
god Thoth is she able to resurrect part of her husband, just enough of him to conceive
and give birth to Horus, a messianic figure. What that story means to you is going to be
what the Three of Swords means to you. And here’s a written review of what we covered
about the attributions and meanings for the Three of Swords. Pause here if you need a
little more time to jot down your notes. And here are the card indications in reversed.
When the frames of card reversals appear on screen, you may want to pause the video and
take some time to study the imagery of the cards reversed and really explore how seeing
the cards in reverse make you feel, how you connect or don’t connect intuitively, perhaps
even psychically, with reversed imagery. Before moving on, I’d like to direct your
attention to the Rider-Waite-Smith Three of Swords. In addition to the attributions appearing
on screen, I want to add that in my readings, I’ve found that the reversed Three of Swords
can also indicate a temporary Three of Swords state, meaning the forces of loss, heartbreak,
and pain in your life is weakening, subsiding, coming to its end. Surrounding cards will
therefore indicate what helps to facilitate closure and ending the pain or reconciling
the loss. In the Thoth, note how the reversal of the
imagery means the Orphic Egg on the handle of the sword is now at the top and the three
petals are not falling, but rather, are floating. Think about how that colors your interpretation
and impression of the Three of Swords reversed. For me, I actually incorporate a lot of these
Thoth Three of Swords reversed attributions to how I would even interpret a reversed Three
of Swords in the RWS deck. Remember these were the Twos we covered in
the previous video. The Two of Coins in the Marseilles give rise
to the third coin that hovers above the two, which now rotate 90 degrees from a vertical
alignment to a horizontal one. We also see the expanding growth of the vines and flower
buds. The Three of Coins denotes a promotion or rise in socioeconomic ranking. This portends
an elevation of power and dignity. In the Rider-Waite-Smith, a sculptor standing
atop a work bench is at work in a monastery, and so the two individuals pictured to the
right are a friar and a nun in a distinct red or reddish habit. The sculptor has completed
the archway with the design that you see depicted in the plans that the nun is holding. In Pictorial
Key, Waite wants us to compare the Three of Pentacles with the Eight of Pentacles. The
apprentice in the Eight of Pentacles is the same figure depicted in the Three, now the
master sculptor. The monastery pictured here in the Three is presumably one of the buildings
from the town behind the apprentice in the Eight, in the background. In the Thoth Three of Disks, we meet the Lord
of Works, though that may be interchangeable with its singular form, Lord of Work, as that’s
how this card is referred to in the Book of Thoth. When the Three of Disks appears in
a reading, this is a divine acknowledgement that a certain Work has been completed. This
is crystallization of forces into something that’s finally tangible and earthly. It’s
the materialization of work product, something you can touch. Note the imagery here in the Thoth. We see
three twelve-spoke dharma wheels bringing a fusion between the Western astrological
theme of the 12-house horoscope wheel and the dharmachakra, or dharma wheel representing
the path to enlightenment. In other words, this key represents completion of something
very important that is a testament of your personal destiny and beautiful work product
to show for yourself. I loved that idea so much, I worked it in
to the meaning of the Three of Orbs, residence for the spirit titled The Mason. This is a
significant card in the SKT deck, because itself, this is the key that represents my
completion of a hand-illustrated tarot deck. I really hope you’ll take some time to explore
every detail in The Mason, as this is one of my most favorite and most personal cards
illustrated in the SKT deck. Even the number of visible bricks above the archway, albeit
some counted are partial, was significant: total number 33. The number of steps you must
walk to get to the archway: 5. Number of masonry tools shown in the foreground: 3. The Seal
of the Great Work and the magical implications. Hey: Mars in Capricorn, right? If Mars in
Capricorn is nothing else, it’s intense. This is “Type A” level accomplishment. To supplement what we just covered about the
Three of Coins, Pentacles, Disks, or Orbs, here are some additional insights for your
notes. What might be immediately apparent is how
the SKT Three of Orbs changes the formation of the three orbs from the Marseilles, RWS,
and Thoth. The three traditions arrange the trinity in the same exact way, but I inverted
it. Instead, the alchemical symbol of the Squared Circle is aligned with the formation
of the coins, pentacles, and disks from the preceding three deck styles. The orbs themselves
in the SKT represent the Divine Womb. At this time, pause the video for a quick
personal study of these four cards and resume when ready. And here are the card indications in reverse.
Note that in the Marseilles tradition, the reversed Three of Coins denotes something
quite different from what Rider-Waite-Smith readers are going to be used to. Reversed,
this card indicates children, very youthful energy and the presence of youth. It also
means some sort of financial, business, or professional undertaking is being realized.
There is a sense of birthing here, whether the birthing of children or the birthing of
work product. Interestingly, what Waite has to say about
the Three of Pentacles reversed somewhat echoes the Marseilles indications for the Three of
Coins reversed with regard to children or a child-like energy at play. I also read the
Three of Pentacles reversed as falling short of your own greatness, not completing a certain
work to the best of your ability, so it’s mediocre work, for you. You didn’t cross
all your T’s and dot all your I’s. Interpreting the Thoth reversed Three of Disks
will rely more on the astrological correspondence. I read the reversal as activating retrograde
implications of Mars as it would be influenced when in the zodiac sign Capricorn. For reading the SKT deck, you’re going to
incorporate all the reversed Three of Pentacles and Disks from Waite and Crowley into how
you read the reversed Three of Orbs. The Mason reversed, if you’re asking me, is the Asian
Tiger Mom crossing her arms at you, shaking her head and clicking her teeth, letting you
know that you failed to meet expectations. You didn’t put in your all and now the work
product you have to show for yourself is mediocre at best. You could have done way better, Little
One. That’s, in a nutshell, the Three of Orbs reversed.
Of course, there is so much that is not covered in these videos. To supplement these brief
discussions with further reading, here are a few book recommendations. For the Tarot de Marseilles deck, I like Jodorowsky’s
The Way of the Tarot or The Marseille Tarot Revealed by Dr. Yoav Ben-Dov. For the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, I’m definitely
going to be biased and self-interested here, and recommend my own book, Holistic Tarot
published by North Atlantic Books. For the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley and
Lady Freida Harris, check out The Crowley Tarot by Hajo Banzhaf. Or go directly to The
Book of Thoth by Crowley himself. Affiliate links to purchase any of these books
are provided in the video description box. For my deck, the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot,
the Little White Book that comes tucked inside the box of your SKT Vitruvian deck is intended
to offer a basic foundation on the card meanings. You can also download the free Medium White
Book or order a print paperback copy of it for the card meanings. To deep-dive into the
esoteric subtext check out The Book of Maps. This concludes our video lecture on the tarot
Threes from the Minor Arcana. At this time, pause the video so you can study the spread
of Threes from the four deck styles, compare, contrast, find the similarities, and arrive
at your own impressions of the Threes. And now take some time to document and note
your personal impressions of the Threes when they appear in reverse. How do you connect
or don’t connect with the reversals of cards. Pause the video if you need more time and
resume when ready. To help reinforce what we’ve covered so
far, study the imagery of the Aces again. In consideration or maybe also in rejection
of what we’ve discussed, how do you interpret these Aces?
Now let’s take a look at the Twos. Can you intuit distinct characters from the four deck
styles pictured here? Which deck tradition are you starting to feel would be more suitable
to you for what reading purposes? How do the insights provided so far compare to what you
know about and have experienced with the cards? And the Threes. How would you express the
narrative of the progression from the Aces to the Twos, and to the Threes?

4
Comments
  • Well, of course I'm taking notes. I'm trying to deepen, reconcile and exchange meanings from what I know and all the information you're kindly providing. I have never considered reversals before, but with these meanings, especially Marseille and classic RWS, I'm starting to make space for them because they give a nuance I wasn't acquainted with in the past.
    My very first deck was the Prisma Visions, so I got used to see a clear progression and story between the cards. From my perspective, Ones represent power and the ability of creation. The Twos are that creation coming further, changing and rebalancing itself. The Threes are like the first success, and they speak to me of team-building and drafting/crafting strategies. I've only been learning tarot for about a year, so this is where I'm at. 😛

    On a more personal note, fun fact: I only own two tarot decks, Prisma Visions and the SKT (I got one!). Very, very different from each other, but I'm getting to know the SKT and it has been a pleasure. I personally appreciate all the Biblical hints due to my Christian background and practice. (Yes, Christian girl delving into the tarot, I'm not going to discuss that further). It's pure geekery, so I enjoy it a lot.

    This series is so fascinating! Thank you!

  • This videos are so amazing! Love them and they really help me to understand tarot in a deeper level. Thank you 🙏🏻✨

  • I I have been hesitant to take on the Thoth for some reason that I don’t even really know, But going through these classes I am incredibly intrigued and looking forward to working with that. I love this approach to learning because I guess that’s how I think both visually and in a kind of lecture form. I’ve spent about 212 years in academia and would live in a college classroom if I could so I guess that makes sense! I just ordered the Tarot of the Holy light. It is referred to as a continental deck and I did read your Review of it prior to ordering. Would you treat it as a Thoth more or less? I ask because in another blog post to you or writing about different decks for different types of people or something and it was the deck that you had next to Thoth. Thank you for your reply if you have time and if not that’s totally cool. I really really appreciate this series as I do all of your work and very generous offerings. Working with the SKT is a joy by the way and both forms the original end of the Vitruvian. Many blessings to you Benebell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *