The Meaning of the Three-Fold Law
The Three-Fold Law, sometimes known as the Law of Return, is probably one of the most controversial of Wicca ethics, and is not embraced by everyone. Basically, it is saying that everything you do will return to you in a greater form, specifically three times what you gave out. If you do harm then harm is returned to you, if you do good then good will be returned. This especially applies to magical acts but also in your daily deeds.
It is believed, by some, that this “Law” was created to keep new initiates in check while they are learning the craft of magic. Others say it is a leftover belief from Christianity, as many Wicca were once Christians or raised in a Christian home. Today many take this “Law” quite literally; while others ignore it completely, and a few simply take it to mean that there will be a reaction to what you have done, not necessarily three-fold.
The Law of Return is seen by most as a part of the core of beliefs of Wicca. However, there are some who say it is not a necessary belief of Wicca. They argue that one shouldn’t guide their actions because of fear of retribution but because they know their actions to be correct and just. I believe this to be the correct way of thinking about it. I also recognize that just like in physics where all actions will cause an equal and opposite reaction, so too must we expect our actions to come back to us. Even to the point that doing nothing is also an action and can cause a reaction.
One can also consider the Law of Attraction where things or actions are attracted to that which is much like it. In other word, if you think or do bad things to others, then bad things are going to be attracted to you. Same for good actions or thoughts. This Law doesn’t put a value to increasing the return but it does show that like attracts like.
Now to discuss as to whether or not this return of your actions can cause it to be returned in greater strength, well I see it in this way, if you drop a stone into water it will cause ripples to radiate outward from it getting larger as they radiate from the center. But when it reaches the shore it begins to ripple back to where the stone was dropped. Those ripples coming back to that beginning spot are larger than when they started out. This is how I view the Three-Fold Law. Those ripples of your action come back to you in a greater form. Also, you can look at it this way: You thought of the action, You prepared to do the action, then You did the action; these are the three acts that justify the three-fold return.
Now I’ve heard some say, “why would only witches, or Wicca more specifically, receive this pay back and not others?” Well that’s just it, I think that in some way this law applies to everyone and for all actions done or not done. But I’m not going to sit and preach to everyone to behave themselves because of it. In the end, everyone should be doing what is right without anyone preaching to them that there is a consequence to their actions. As stated before, we all should seriously consider our actions not because we fear retribution but because it is the right thing to do. So take serious thought to all of your actions or non-actions.