let us take a moment here to first look at the triquetra that is the Creator. Then we will explore the Triskelion that is Man. Finally we will recognize the trichotomy of Chivalry.
The Triquetra of the Creator
In the monotheistic, Abrahamic religious traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, there is only one God. While there is is a universe of good and evil characters- angelic and mystical beings of benevolent and malevolent intent- when it comes to true deity, there is only one.
In each of the Abrahamic religions, but particularly in Christianity, the Creator has revealed himself to the created as a tripartite being, While some Christian sects have evolved this notion to a doctrine of trinity that borders on tritheism- believing in three separate and distinct beings that partake in the Godhhead- in the first few centuries of Christianity, and the Christianity of the original Celts of the British isles before Roman Christianity reached them in later centuries- rejected this notion. The early Christian faith, before it was highjacked by the Roman Empire and institutionalized in the 4th century, held the monotheistic Abrahamic view of god as did Judaism and Islam. To the early Christians, Father God was the only being that is God. He incarnated Himself in his son Jesus, and He Himself animates all living things by His Holy Spirit. There has always been an acknowledgment of a Triquetra in the Nature of God, but it is a distinction of modes, offices, or manifestations, and not distinctions of persons.
This singular Creator has revealed the triquetra of His nature in the things He has made. It is as Paul the Apostle wrote, that the invisible attributes of the Creator are clearly seen from the creation of the world, and that even His eternal power and Godhead can be clearly understood by the things He has made, so that those who do not properly understand are without excuse (Romans 1:20).
And we can see this threeness in the singular, as a theme in creation. Just as an art critic can tell the master artist that painted a work, by the brushstrokes of the artist; the discerning eye can see the brushstrokes of the Creator in the created.
Space is composed of length, width and depth.
Time itself is composed of past present and future.
Water- the very source off life- can be experienced as a liquid, a solid, or a vapor.
And even on the atomic level, water is composed of three atoms.
The Celts- early inhabitants of what is now, Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales (and to a larger extent the Triskelion of the Gauls and even the Valknut of the Norse)- had picked up on this triquetra in the godhead, even before Christianity reached its shores. Three was a sacred number to the Celts and they believed very much in Shapeshifting deities. Therefore, this ideal of one God that manifests Himself in three modes was readily embraced by them when Joseph of Aramathia first borough Christianity to Britannia in the years shortly following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Over the centuries, many illustrations have been employed to explain the triquetra of the Godhead. The singular symbols of three parts that represent deity in these early traditions are included as illustrations in this chapter. But as we have discussed, nature is the best teacher. Sabellius, who famously wrote in the 200’s AD that the one God is the “Father in creation, the Son in redemption and the Holy Spirit in emendation” often used the sun as an illustration of the nature of God. For the Sun, he would argue, is a glowing orb in the sky, but it produces rays of light, and those rays of light produce warmth on the skin. And yet, there are not three suns. Even so, he argues, God sheds forth the visible light of His son, and we are able to feel the warming effect of His Spirit, and yet there are not three Gods.
Saint Patrick, who first brought Christianity to Ireland in the 400’s AD is said to have used the three leafed clover to illustrate how one thing can have there distinct manifestations.
The Triskelion of Man
I will submit to you, however, that there is no greater illustration of the triquetra of deity than the one you see in the mirror. For Scriptures teach that God created man in His own likeness and image (Genesis). And in order for you to become a Chivalrous warrior, you must understand this mystery of God’s nature, so that you can better understand yourself. For the sacred Scriptures also teach that you yourself are a three part being, or a Triskelion, if you would.
In his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul the Apostle Said “I pray that God sanctifies you wholly (or entirely), I pray that your whole Spirit, Soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here we see the clearest illustration of the Godhead. And this knowledge can help us both understand God and ourselves better.
Even as God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit- Man is Body, Soul and Spirit.
Even as man is Body, Soul and Spirit- God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In understanding His nature, you can understand yourself. In understanding yourself, you can better understand His nature.
It is therefore the goal- as Paul the Apostle stated above, for every Chivalrous Christian Warrior to be “wholly sanctified.” See, your Creator is not merely interested saving your soul. He designed you to be an illustration of himself in the world. His ambassadors. His representatives. And as such, He wants to see you thriving, physically, mentally and spiritually. And it should be the goal of every Chivalrous man to be a paragon of men- as Christ, our great example was-
in bodily health and martial skill,
in knowledge and wisdom,
and in spiritual illumination.
The Triquetra of Chivalry
With the reoccurring sacredness of the number three, we find it no surprise then that scholars have noted three distinct types of Chivalry!
There is the martial Chivalry- or the warrior Ethos.
There is the Chivalry of Courtly Love.
There is the Spiritual Chivalry.
Other sources speak of the trichotomy of Chivalry in this way:
You have your martial duty to your country, liege lord, fellow Christians and warriors.
You have your courtly duty to your lady in particular and to women in general.
You have your Religious or Spiritual duty to God.
As described in the chapter on the structure of the poems included here on the 12 Knightly virtues, Each poem herein dedicates an entire verse to the trichotomy of Chivalry. Each poem consists of 5 verses.
The first verse of each poem introduces the virtue under consideration.
The second verse applies that virtue to Martial Chivalry.
The third verse applies that virtue to the Chivalry of Courtly Love.
The fourth verse applies the virtue to Spiritual Chivalry.
The fifth and final verse is a conclusion of the theme virtue of the poem.
It is my hope that sharing this with you will not only help you better enjoy the poems of the Chivalric Code, but it is also my prayer that, through this, you have come to a better understanding of the nature of God. And through that understanding, better apply the truths herin to the entirety of your being. You see, the triangle is one of the strongest engineered structures known to man. Why? Because pressure on one point is equally distributed to all three points.
It is the same with you. The pressures of life press hard upon your mind, and it can have a very real effect on your physical health. Spiritual warfare, likewise, can leave one depressed in mind, or sick in body. So I admonish you to train and nurture your entire being- your Body Soul and Spirit, so that you can be a “wholly sanctified man.”