Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trinity in the Landscape


Somewhere I remember St. Ignatius of Loyola suggesting that wherever you find the structure of three in nature, you can be reminded of the Holy Trinity. In fact one can note that in what might be termed the “cosmic religions” which celebrate the Creation, and the presence of God in Creation, Trinitarian forms abound. In ancient Celtic rituals for example, the invocation of the Trinity goes back, I would guess even to pre-Christian times, when the three Bridgets were an important example of a Trinitarian Divinity. The shamrock leaf, which has three lobes, is another example of a natural form that is associated with a triune principle of Divinity present in Creation. In India we also find many examples of Three-in-One figures, going back to tribal art. Among the Solegars in South India, there is a very ancient tree in the forest of the “Bili Rangana Beta” Hills, which is thought to be sacred, and the three trunks that form the central body of this huge tree, are meant to be symbolic of the Three aspects of Deity. In fact among these people the Trisul, which is associated with Shaivite imagery, being a three-pointed spear, is also to be found in village shrines.

In Tribal cultures across India, there is a marked tendency to understand the cycle of the year as having three main parts. Here the Dry season, wet season (rainy season) is followed in the last part of the year by a time of fruitfulness, where the earth yields its fullness. Thinking of the elements, one could ascribe to these three divisions of the year, Fire, Water, and Earth. The element of Air is present in all these seasons, which, like the Spirit, is like the breath of Nature, and helps in the living dynamism of nature, as it transforms from one season to the next.

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