One of my favorite deities from the Yoruba tradition is Eshu the trickster. Like all of the Orishas, Eshu has many names and functions. One of Eshu’s most celebrated aspects protects travelers and blesses roads, especially crossroads. He is the god of choice and change, is able to speak any language known to mortal and god alike, and is free to break any rule. His protean nature and his powers of fortune (and misfortune) have made him popular in many countries. The number three is sacred to him and his assistance is often measured in this number (three things may happen in quick succession, or in three days, weeks, or months time. Here is a short story about Eshu that I found here (Wikipedia has a similar story):
Eshu painted half of his body black and half red. Half of his garments were crimson, and half were pure black. Thus attired, he walked down a street running through the lands of his followers. Half of his people saw him as a powerful red deity, while the other half saw him as a beautiful black god. Soon the worshipers were arguing about what they had seen, then they were fighting, and finally the machetes came out and they were killing each other. Neighbors hacked apart former neighbors in a holy war about the nature of their god.
Eshu returned to his followers and showed them what he had done. His lesson was a harsh but effective way of teaching humans that their beliefs are dependent on their perspective. His worshipers learned that failure to keep an open mind can lead to violence and tragedy.
In Greek mythology it is the goddess Hecate who governs crossroads and she protects those who travel by night. She is known as the Triple Goddess or Goddess with Three Faces and in Wiccan traditions is the Maiden, Mother and Crone aspects of the archetypal goddess (the three faces of the moon). Also known as an underworld goddess with power over the dead, shrines were built to her at three-way crossroads to appease her. Hecate’s Roman equivalent was the goddess Trivia who also governed three-way crossroads and the harvest moon.
In Tarot, the number three corresponds to The Empress, the quintessential mother figure. She attunes us to the cycles of nature and the rhythms of the seasons. She brings us physical pleasure via our senses and new life in all forms. The Empress inspires us to sync with the natural world by planting our feet firmly on the Earth. She is more than just an archetypal mother figure. She is creation and caregiving, sustenance and well-being.
Eshu, Hecate and The Empress are all figures associated with the number three, symbolizing magic and creativity. Time is invoked as well, as three represents the past, present and future. The power of three promises new adventures, and the cooperation of others whose assistance you may require. How can Eshu help you change your perspective? How can Hecate help you understand the undercurrents of what you are undergoing? How can The Empress bring unconditional love into your life?
Tarot and mythology are closely linked to opening our unconscious and bringing it into awareness. Through symbols we open ourselves emotionally to higher possibilities. Are you at a crossroads? Are you considering your present direction in relationship to your past situations and future goals?
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