The Law of Three

Right at the start of her book The Holy Trinity and The Law of Three, Cynthia Bourgeault asserts that feminizing the Trinity as is, won’t work. She tells us that’s “however laudable the attempt to secure a feminine presence in the Trinity might be, that strategy leads to serious confusion of metaphysical systems.”

I fully agree with her and Elizabeth Johnson who, in her book She Who Is, demonstrates how just changing/renaming Spirit as Sophia opens the door to multiple female stereotypical qualities. She suggests to instead add to each of the three persons in the Trinity female qualities and characteristics. Furthermore, as long as we imagine the three as persons rather than as process we will miss the transformational flow represented in the ancient principle of the “law of three.”

The very polarity of male/female belongs to another paradigm, a binary one at that. The tensegrity in oppositions ultimately leads to its very collapse/death.

A ternary system offers a distinctly different mix. In contrast to binary systems which try at best to balance opposites, the ternary process stipulates a third force. That emergence/birth of a third force then opens a whole new realm of possibilities. Binary and ternary systems cannot be mixed because they represent distinct kinships.

In human /biological relationships many claim that when male and female relations are consummated, new life is born. But… all that happens is that the binary is opened.

Perhaps, two can become one, but for another whole new being to be conceived a third force is at work from the start. The new person is genetically (blood and flesh) related to its parents; but spiritually, their soul is their own and will grow onward beyond the parental binary.

Cynthia, in an essays on abortion, speculates that our purpose in life is to grow such a soul, strong enough to even survive death.

With “the law of three” as it’s hermeneutical key, the Trinity reveals the secret of how the hidden God becomes accessible light (love). In many ancient metaphysical systems fire/light is the only transformative element. (Without sun no seed can sprout.) We, too, grow not by escaping creatureliness, but by becoming, consummating, and being consummated in Love.

Another way to trace this living journey process is to come to see how Unity gives birth to diversity.

Oliver Clement in Roots of Christian Mysticism writes:
“The 3 in 1 reality describes perfection in Unity.” Catherine Doherty, the founder of Madonna House, in a letter to Thomas Merton, calls Unity by its Russian name, Sobernost. Unity that fulfills itself in communion as the source and foundation of all beloved community, perpetually surmounting all contradictions.

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