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Finding Balance in the Threefold Law

Updated on May 30, 2017

Karma is not a new concept. Most people believe in some form of spiritual cause and effect; you receive what you put out into the world. Pagans/Wiccans have their own type of karmic rule called the Threefold law, or the rule of three. According to this rule, what you put out will come back to you times three. If you are kind or do good deeds, that positivity will come back to you times three. On the other hand if you send out negativity- such as starting rumors, harming others, or committing crimes- that negativity will come back to you times three. Essentially, the universe keeps you in check; and then some.

I fully believe in karma, but even as a practicing pagan I have always felt there was something not quite right about the Threefold Law. I had never really given much thought to it before, but it just did not make sense to me that if you did something wrong, it would come back to you worse than what you put out. One day it occurred to me that most branches of paganism believe in universal balance. So, the reason that I felt the Threefold Law was something I could not get behind was because it suggested a lack of balance. Just as an example, if you steal a parking spot, and in turn gets into a car accident (a much worse situation), this is not balance. On the positive side, if you give a dollar to someone in need and in turn win the lottery, this is not balance either.

While I would love to believe that if I gave someone a dollar I could win the lottery- it would be saying that by doing one good deed I deserve more than the person that I chose to help. This, to me, is not balance. However in trying to make sense of this law, a new perspective did occur to me: the Threefold Law may not actually come back to a person three times what they send out, but it could simply come back to affect them in three ways; body, mind, and spirit. This perspective makes more sense to me because it is essentially breaking down the effects of karma. What you send out into the universe, you get back. It equally affects you as one whole: body, mind, and spirit. Balance. It makes sense to me that Threefold Law affects you in the same way that you affect the body, mind, and spirit of another person.

A great book that references this theory is “A Witch’s 10 Commandments” by Marian Singer. In it, the author states that according to Newton’s law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore what we get would be equal (or close) to what we give. Marian also theorizes about the origin of the Threefold Law and how it could simply have originated as a way to keep early magical practitioners from getting themselves into trouble. This would make sense as a kind of scare tactic for early practitioners. It also encourages good behavior by of course promising abundant rewards for those who do good deeds. This original outlook on the Threefold Law certainly encourages positivity, but as previously stated, it is also contradictory to the idea of universal balance that is aught by many spiritual paths.

Regardless of their origin, these laws of cause and effect are to keep us in check with the universe. These karmic laws show us that our actions, be they positive or negative, have an effect on the world around us and on ourselves. The universe has its own way of keeping balance. I am sure that there are many different views on this subject, but I thought that I would share my viewpoint as a spiritual person trying to make sense of a rule that is important to many on a similar path as I.

What you send out into the universe, you get back. It equally affects you as one whole: body, mind, and spirit. Balance.

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