“Stepmother” is common moniker for the heartsease in both Germany and France, the petals representing the triad of a stepmother, her biological children, and her stepchildren.
“Three is a mystical and often a holy number, and was so long before the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is the threesome of snake, Eve, and Adam which, according to the Bible, makes for carnal knowledge. In the unconscious, the number three stands for sex, because each sex has three visible sex characteristics: penis and the two testes in the male; vagina and the two breasts in the female.
The number three stands in the unconscious for sex also in a quite different way, as it symbolizes the oedipal
situation with its deep involvement of three persons with one another – relations which, as the story of ‘Snow White’ among many others shows, are more than tinged with sexuality.
The relation to the mother is the most important in every person’s life [Snow White’s antagonist was her birth-
mother in the Grimm brothers’ first edition (and therefore closest to the Germanic oral tradition). Not until the 1819 version did they take it upon themselves to replace her with a stepmother.]; more than any other it conditions our early personality development, affecting to a large degree what our outlook on life and ourselves will be – whether optimistic or pessimistic, for example. Erikson speaks about the fact that these experiences will determine all through life whether we approach each event with trust or mistrust – a basic attitude which cannot help shaping how these events unfold, and what their impact on us will be.”
–Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales