Thirty-Three: The Spooky Side

 

In just thirty-three days, the ghostly and ghoulish festivities of Halloween will be upon us! Are you prepared? In honor of Halloween I will be posting  Halloween countdowns to help get you in the mood. Stay tuned for all things Halloween —  the macabre, the mystical and the mythical, as well as the silly, the satirical and the sadistic!

I thought a countdown of 33 days would be a good place to start. Why 33?  Well…  The number 33 has a sacred and spooky history.  According to some numerologists, 33 is the most significant of all esoteric numbers. It is an important part of many spiritual, occult and religious practices.

First of all, three is a magical number. In Faerie tales, we get three wishes.

We are given three tasks, and the “third time is a charm.”  Baseball gives a chance for three strikes before you are “out”. Mother, father, and baby makes three, thus ensuring the continuation of humanity.  Three is part and parcel of our culture. In Tarot, three is the Empress, who gives birth to all human creativity.

Three is also significant to many religions. Christianity uses the Trinity of three — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Pagan faith involves the veneration of the Maiden, Mother and Crone, as attuned to a woman’s life cycles and the phases of the Moon. Three is great on its own, but two threes put together is considered extremely powerful. Two threes facing each other make a mirror-image design that is said to represent the ancient Hermetic maxim  “as above, so below.” The heavens mirror the earth; the spirit world reflects the human world. This maxim is often shown as the Tree of Life. (Note the outline, 3 and inverted 3.)

Thirty-three was also important in English literature. The number is often hidden within significant texts. Take Shakespeare, for example.  In Julius Caesar, Caesar himself is stabbed 33 times.  The ghost of Caesar visits Brutus in a passage that starts with a 33-character sentence: “That shapes this monstrous apparition.” Brutus recovers from the shock and addresses the ghost in a 33-word sentence: “It comes upon me. Art thou any thing? Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil, that makest my blood cold and my hair to stare? Speak to me what thou art.” 

In Hamlet, Horatio first questions the Ghost in a 33 word sentence: “What art thou that usurp’st this time of night, together with that fair and war like form, in which the majesty of buried Denmark did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee, speak!”  Horatio also addresses the ghost in a 33 word sentence as he leaves: “O, speak! Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life, extorted treasure in the womb of earth, for which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,speak of it: stay, and speak!”  The number here is used to represent the link between normal, waking life and the ghostly realms.

Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queen is full of allegory and characters ranging from King Arthur to Gloriana (Queen Elizabeth I). In Book 3 Canto 3 (3 + 3 = 33) the opening line begins with a 33-letter sentence: “Most sacred fyre, that burnest mightily.” Spenser linked the number 33 with the concept of a human spirit and at the same time a mirror image in the celestial realm.

Fun Facts:

  • Jesus is said to have performed 33 miracles. He was crucified at age 33.
  • The mystic Edgar Cayce wrote that there were 33 incarnations of Jesus.
  • According to some Islamic teachings, when people reach Heaven they will exist permanently at the age of 33. (Sounds good to me!)
  • The Ancient Hindu text of the Rig Veda describes “33 deities”. 11 are of heaven, 11 are of earth and 11 are of the realm in-between.
  • In Buddhism, the goddess and bodhisattva Kuan Yin is said to take on 33 different likenesses.
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead tells of 33 heavens ruled by Indra (the Protector) and another 33 ruled by Mara (the Evil One.)
  • The ancient city of Babylon was very near the 33rd-degree latitude line, while modern Baghdad is on the 33rd parallel. This area was once thought to be the Garden of Eden.
  • Dallas, Texas, the place where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, is on the 33rd parallel. The date of his assassination, November 22, or 11/22 adds up to 33. (I know! Creepy…)
  • A complete sequence of human DNA contains 33 turns.
  • There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine. In India, it is believed that vital spiritual energy which must be awakened is located at the base of the spine. This coiled-up energy is known as Kundalini. Through Yoga practices, this energy ascends to the brain and beyond.

Pretty cool stuff, huh? I bet you’ll never think of 33 in a mundane way again! Enjoy this day as a “sacred countdown” to the sacred festival of Halloween 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As Equinox Approaches…

 

“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”                              — William Shakespeare

It occurs to me that we, as human beings, are all some combination of light and darkness. The task is to balance the two, without letting either one have the greater power. Too much darkness will engulf us into the depths of fear and depression. Too much light will make us blind.

The light is active, warm, affirming and life-giving, but excessive sun will give us sunstroke. The night is silent, contemplative and restorative, but too much darkness will cause inertia.

At no time of year are these truths more evident than at Equinox, when light and darkness occupy an equal number of hours in one day.

The light and darkness can also be compared to personalities. Somewhere along the line, darkness got a bad rap. This of course, is vastly unfair. It is true that no one likes “morbid Morticia”. She is rude, harsh, abrupt, maybe revealing a bit too much of the cold, hard truth.

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However, the sugar coated “positive Pollyanna” can grate on our nerves as well. She is too happy. We are jealous. Who lives in a 24 hour sunshine? We want revenge!  Can she be for real?

(You know the types 🙂 )

Think whatever you want about morbid Morticia, but she has some wicked, hidden secrets to reveal. Are you interested? Of course you are! She is the night, the wisdom, the no-holds-barred exposure of the soul. Positive Pollyanna can keep these harsh truths in perspective. She is the illumination, the goodness and the gentleness, forever reminding us of our light within. We need both of them.

“To light a candle is to cast a shadow.” — Ursula Le Guin

There is an ancient Taoist belief that all of nature is a reflection of humanity, and vice-versa. We humans are more like the elements of nature than we might suspect.  Our life cycles stand parallel to those of plants and flowers, going through the same phases of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Therefore, if we seek to heal anything within ourselves, we need only look to nature for the solution.

In the northern hemisphere, we now greet Autumn. We gather our harvest, embrace the last glimpse of summer and prepare for the darkness to come. In the southern hemisphere, we greet Spring. We begin planting, kiss the night goodbye and prepare for the long, fair days to come.

Both are important for our well being. Both are important for the well being of our planet.

At this Equinox, take some time to reflect on and embrace both the darkness and the light within yourself.  Blessed be!

light and dark