The number "three" has always carried superstitious connotations in American folklore. In volume 2 of “A compendium of American Folklore from the Ohio Collection of Newbell Niles Puckett” …there is a section titled: Numbers, Counting in the Lore of Death. This section included references to one death or funeral followed by two more. This occult trinity is often referred to as a “Triaphilia.” The triaophilia myth-arch is most commonly summed up as: “Death comes in three’s.” Old wives tales such as this have been handed down and prevail because they occur at potent and meaningful cultural moments. They persist because their occurrence falls well outside the realm of coincidence.
This tri-specter of death manifests in the prevailing form, takes the predominant shape of the collective phobias and fears of the culture it is visited upon.
The "death comes in three’s" myth-arch, hit with a horrifically potent vengeance in early June, in Orlando, Florida. The first example came with the shooting death of a reality star from “The Voice,” Christina Grimmie. She was shot on June 10th, by an apparently deranged fan, while signing autographs, following her concert performance in Orlando. She succumbed to her gunshot wound on June 11th.
The next day, the second horror was visited upon Orlando by a lone gunman who, it was widely reported, claimed allegiance to the Islamic State. The June 12th attack, occurring inside the popular nightclub: Pulse, resulted in 50 deaths, including the gunman, who was killed by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff. This was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history; the largest mass killing of LGBT people in the Western world since the Holocaust; and the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11th attacks in 2001.
Incidences one and two of the Triaphilia of Death speak directly to our current cultural fears and fascinations. The symbolic elements of Christina Grimmie’s murder include our collective obsession with youth, especially the young female (the mythic maiden) and fame… the prevailing “reality star” version of fame is exceptionally pertinent in our modern media existence. The most nightmarish symbolic element of the first killing is obviously connected to the recent rise in gun violence in America. This specter of death cuts more deeply into our collective psyche than any politically partisan debate about gun laws.
The symbolism of the Pulse nightclub mass murders descends into some of our darkest collective subconscious phobias, which have manifested in over 160 mass shootings in America since 2001. The Pulse murders/shootings also symbolically connotate, not only Islamaphobia and the war on terror... but more significantly a deep-seated homophobic ailment that afflicts our culture. This most horrific attack that clearly targeted our LGBT community… adds to the list of what law enforcement euphemistically refers to as: “soft targets.” Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook and now Orlando all target the vulnerable, the defenseless and otherwise harmless sectors of our society.
The third, and in some ways, the most inexplicable and bizarre visitation of Death, came on June 14th, when a 2-year-old boy was grabbed and drowned by an alligator in a man-made lake at Orlando’s Disney Resort. The father purportedly fought to save the child but was unable to free him from the alligator's grip. This third and final visitation is perhaps the most symbolic and most tellingly primal aspect of the Orlando “Death comes in three’s” nightmare. I hesitate to think of the connotations that arise. A prehistoric reptile rises from a body of the water to claim a small boy… seems almost anciently, spontaneously ritualistic. Shades of Cthulhu.
The Alligator is symbolic of ancient, primordial power. Many Native American tribes consider alligators as creatures responsible for creation. The alligator is a mediator in many Native legends because it emerged from primordial waters in creation myths and brought forth the sun and the earth. Mayan legend tells of four great alligators supporting the entire world... keeping Earths delicate balance in-tack by the strength of their backs and with fierce determination.
The third and final death of a small innocent, in the jaws of a primeval reptile, raises deeply mythic, archetypical questions of humanity’s relationship to ancient powers. It is as if these primordial powers are waking after millennia of slumber, to once again assert archaic authority. The waking of ancient powers somehow resonates with our prevailing zeitgeist. The Hopi people’s term: Koyaanisqatsi… translated as “Life out of Balance” …typifies our current sociological predicament.
I will leave further interpretation of such signs and portents to those more synchro-mystically in-tuned than I. There is, no doubt many more synchronicities and occult connections that will take us further down the (proverbial) rabbit hole. In these dangerous and increasingly deranged times, those among us who pay attention to the mythic, paranormal signs of our emerging new paradigm will undoubtedly prove invaluable. It will be our seers and visionaries who will recognize and guide us through the re-awakening of these powers.
What our archaically re-emerging, rapidly transcendent, brave-new-world now needs is...