Beware the Rule of Three


Beware the Rule of Three

Wiccans or witches, as we are better known, and some pagans, believe in the Rule of Three also known as Three-fold law or the Law of Return. Simply put, this means that what you give to the world, whether it is positive or negative, can come back to the person three times. Some people who practice Wicca or are pagan do not conform totally to the idea that things can come back to you threefold.[1][2]

Some people may know this rule of three better as “Karma”, however it may not be completely accurate. Both beliefs describe this as you get what you give. So if you act in a good way, you will get good things back. If you act in a bad way, you will get bad things back. According to the religions Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern belief systems, the concept of karma doesn’t opperate on a three-fold return. The religions do not contain the concept of “good” and “evil” which Wicca does.

John Couglin believes the Law’s as fact and “a literal reward or punishment tied to one’s actions, particularly when it comes to working magic.[3] Not every Wiccan abides by the Rule of Three and there are many who are new to the Wiccan life who view the Law of Return as an over the top additon to the Wiccan Rede.[3] Some Wiccan’s believe that this rule was added based on Christianity morals. [4][5]

In 1948, Gerals Gardner wrote a novel called “High Magic’s Aid, which some believe to be a prototype for the Rule of Three:[6][7]

“Thou hast obeyed the Law. But mark well, when thou receivest good, so equally art bound to return good threefold.” (For this is the joke in witchcraft, the witch knows, though the initiate does not, that she will get three times what she gave, so she does not strike hard.)”

The rule has been interpreted by many and was made by Monique Wilson and later Raymond Buckland, in his Wiccan books. Before the idea became written in stone, the reciprocal ethics which many Wiccan’s were bound to, were much less defined and the basic idealogy related it to “Karma”. The idea took off as a general ethical principle, is believed, from Raymond Buckland, where he spoke about the rule in a Beyond Magazine interview. The rule of three has been spoken about in many poems, books and other forms of media.

The Rule of Three later features within a poem of 26 couplets titled “Rede of the Wiccae”, published by Lady Gwen Thompson in 1975 in Green Egg vol. 8, no. 69[8] and attributed to her grandmother Adriana Porter.[9][10] The threefold rule is referenced often by the neo-Wiccans of the Clan Mackenzie in the S.M. Stirling Emberverse novels.

This rule can also be found in music. The Dutch metal band, Nemesea, have a song called “Threefold Law”, from their album “Mana”.

One thing is for sure, whatever you believe, you have to be careful what you give out to the world or it may come back to bite you right on the butt. Be careful what you energy you send out because you may not like what comes flying back to you.

Hope you have a great day and thanks for reading my blog. You just had your first read about Wicca on this site. Watch for more to come.


1. MacMorgan-Douglas, Kaatryn (2007). All One Wicca: A study in the universal eclectic tradition of wicca. (Tenth Anniversary ed.). Buffalo, NY: Covenstead Press. ISBN 978-0-615-15094-9.
2. Treleven, Amethyst (2008). Seeker’s Guide to Learning Wicca: Training to First Degree for the Northern Hemisphere. Adelaide, South Australia: Oak & Mistletoe. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-9805818-2-9.
3. B Coughlin, John J. (2001) The Three-fold Law
4. Spiro, Guy (September 2001). “A Conversation With Phyllis Curott”, The Monthly Aspectarian.
5. Lembke, Karl (2002), The Threefold Law. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
6. Gardner, Gerald (1949). High Magic’s Aid. Pentacle Enterprises. p. 188. ISBN 1-872189-06-7.
7. Coughlin, John J. (2001) The Three-fold Law, part 3: Rise of the Three-fold Law
8. The Rede of the Wiccae. Retrieved 8 December 2006.
9. Theitic (2001). The New England Covens of Traditionalist Witches. At The Witches’ Voice. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
10. Lady Gwynne, the New England Covens of Traditionalist Witches website. Retrieved 2008-04-07.

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