The Law of Return aka the Threefold Law

Simply put, the Law of Return states that all actions have repercussions. There are many versions of the Law of Return. My personal beliefs are in line with the laws of ecology which state:

  1. Everything is connected to everything else
  2. Everything must go somewhere
  3. Nature knows best
  4. There is no such thing as a free lunch

When you take a resource, even with good intentions, there will be repercussions. The petty cash box needs to be refilled; you can’t expect it to constantly be full, no matter how badly it might be needed.

The more you want out of life, the more you need to put into it.  If you want to be a doctor, sitting on the couch is not going to make it happen.  Throwing a bit of money at it is not going to make it happen.  It’s going to require time, money, effort, and perseverance.

The Law of Return needs no concept of divine judgement.  It does not promise only good things will happen to good people, for example.  However, those who do good are generally done well by others, while evil seeds more evil.

Threefold Law or the Rule of Three

The most commonly referenced version of the Law of Return is what is commonly referred to as the Threefold Law, often phrased as:

Ever Mind The Rule Of Three
Three Times Your Acts Return To Thee
This Lesson Well, Thou Must Learn
Thou Only Gets What Thee Dost Earn

Other phrasings emphasize morality and success:

Mind the Threefold Law you should,
Three times bad and three times good.

The above version was taken directly from the Rede of the Wiccae, which is certainly not required reading but is interesting to investigate at the least. Another version:

Ensure that your actions are honorable,
for all that you do shall return to you, threefold, good or bane.

Author Phyllis Curott refers to this as the Boomerang Whammy Rule (Witchcrafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic, page 178).  She, and I, find it overly simple.  The world does not work as these phrases make it sound. If it did, we’d all be donating to charity like mad and reaping the rewards by the handful. It also promises good rewards will come from good behavior.  Not only is that not a reasonable expectation, is it really good behavior if you’re only doing it because you think you’ll get something for it?

How Many Fold?

Another major objection to the Threefold Law is the idea that everything is magnified by three.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Energy does not spontaneously manifest.  Everything comes from somewhere.

For some, the threefold quality of repercussions is metaphysical: everything we do has an impact on us mind, soul and body.


5 Comments to "The Law of Return aka the Threefold Law"

  1. Izzy's Gravatar Izzy
    February 6, 2016 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Energy does manifest from the Outer realm

  2. Sherry's Gravatar Sherry
    February 22, 2016 - 6:14 pm | Permalink

    The Threefold Law was an inside joke among Gardner’s initiates. It was never meant to say that everything we do returns to us multiplied by three. Traditional Wicca does teach the law of cause and effect or equal and opposite reaction, and advises us to be aware of whatever consequences will come from our actions (or inaction as the case may be).

    There are so many nowadays who are not learning the historical meanings of these traditions and philosophies, and are taking them far too literally. So sad.

  3. Ulliana's Gravatar Ulliana
    July 13, 2016 - 8:10 pm | Permalink

    One of my friends who has been made a High Priest in his coven, had told me that I am not a true Wiccan unless I learn all the ‘hexes, curses and black magic’. I told him I rather not because of the threefold law and he had gone on a rant that “three fold law is only put there to keep you from trying anything bad. You only know half of Wicca, you need to learn all the dark things, too, and I expect you to practice it”.

    I haven’t seen any dark spells like that from any of my readings and I don’t know if I should believe him or not. I feel like it’s just a way to get me to bend to his rules.

    • sikvana's Gravatar sikvana
      October 22, 2017 - 8:34 am | Permalink

      Ulliana, your friend sounds a delusional and controlling. Regardless of what Wicca does or doesn’t require, you don’t owe him anything in the pursuit of your own faith and religion, he has no right to expect you to do anything, and how do you know what he is saying is true anyway?

      • March 19, 2018 - 7:50 am | Permalink

        I agree with you in some respect, however, when joining a Coven you are to do as the Coven expects…otherwise you shouldn’t join a Coven.

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