Whether a cure must be done on three consecutive days, or whether three prayers are said, or
whether three food items must be eaten, the repetition of the number three is a given,
regardless of cure type.
Instinctively, many would connect this to the Trinity in Christianity; The Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. While many of the prayers that go alongside giving the cure involve these words, doing
something three times may in fact be older than Christianity itself. In fact, the Trinity in Christian
tradition may have been influenced by Celtic symbolism rather than the Judaic-Greco
background of the religion. According to Peter Berresford Ellis in his book, A Dictionary of Irish
Mythology, in Poitiers in France in about 350 C.E, Bishop Hilary was a native Celt who
significantly influenced the Christian religion. His book De Trinitate defined the concept of a Holy
Trinity, which no doubt emerged from his understanding of triple Gods and Goddesses that exist
as three-in-one spirits in Celtic religions.
The Lebor Gabála, The Book of Invasions, is a medieval text that documents the pseudo history of early Ireland. The Tuatha dé Danann, the people of the Goddess Danu, were a mythological race of people who inhabited Ireland before the Sons of Míl, the modern day Irish arrived. Dáithí Ó’hÓgáin demonstrates the power of the number three in early Irish myth by highlighting various triple Gods and Goddesses throughout his intensive dissection of Irish mythology in his book, The Lore of Ireland. In fact, the very name of this country in Irish, Éire, takes it’s name from a triple land Goddess- Ériu, Banba and Fódla.
Predating the Celts by 2500, the tri-spiral at the passage tomb at Newgrange, Co Meath uses
three spirals that connect in the centre, although its meaning has been lost to time. It is the most
famous Irish Megalithic symbol but certainly not the only Irish design to incorporate a triple motif.
I can see the patterns between the practices from each conversation I have with a healer. Each time they involve the number three, or even it’s multiples, six or nine, into their methods, I reflect on how ancient this repetition is, unbeknownst to them, as they innocently but firmly stick to a reoccurring symbol that is laced in superstition and belief- the rule of three.
Berresford Ellis,Peter. “Triads”. A Dictionary of Irish Mythology. London. Constable and
“Newgrange Tri Spiral”. Newgrange.com. https://www.newgrange.com/tri-spiral.htm
Ó’hÓgáin, Dáithí. The Lore of Ireland; An Encyclopaedia of Myth,Legend and Romance. Cork. The Collins Press. 2006.