The Wiccan Threefold Law, also known as the Wiccan Rule of Three, centers on the belief that the good or evil actions that you send into the universe will return to you threefold. This concept pertains to everyday actions as well as casting spells and is a part of our Wiccan culture. But what does threefold mean exactly? Is the Wiccan Threefold Law the same as karma?
The word “threefold” is described in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "being three times as great or as many - a threefold increase" . Does it mean your action will return to you three separate times? Or does your action rebound only once but three times as strong? The two possible outcomes are very different. For example, if you start a nasty argument with a coworker, the Wiccan Threefold Law could mean that your action will cause three other coworkers to do something similar to you, one at a time. That is regrettable, but not too much to handle. A Wiccan might just take the risk and commit the initial action. But what if the Wiccan Threefold Law means that one coworker will attack you with something three times stronger than harsh words? Could this result in serious physical harm or possibly your death? Not many Wiccans would dare to commit any wrong action if it were to return three times as strong. However, Wiccans are divided on the interpretation of “threefold.” Since we have no appointed authority such as the Pope or the Dalai Lama to hand down a ruling, it is up to each of us Wiccans to decide which meaning feels right.
Karma and the Wiccan Threefold Law share only a slight resemblance. Karma is a metaphysical belief occurring in several religions (for example, Buddhism and Hinduism) and systems of thought (the New Age movement). Its scope is as vast as the Wiccan Threefold Law is narrow. For example, the Wiccan Threefold Law expresses a literal rebounding of whatever action you commit. If you do something good, you get it back threefold. If you do something bad, you get that back threefold. Type of cause and type of effect match each other (except in number of occurrences or degrees of intensity). But the concept of karma is much more complex and involves purifying the soul through different experiences over the course of several lifetimes to learn empathy and compassion. For example, if you tell your friend about a job opportunity at the company where you work, the Wiccan Threefold Law says that you will receive three similar favors (or maybe one which is three times as strong). That is a direct correspondence between type of cause and type of effect. But karmic consequences are not an exact match-up of good to good and bad to bad. You might tell your friend about a job opportunity in your workplace only to have him steal your job a year later – even though you did him a good turn. This could happen for many reasons such as that he is a bad person or because the time has come for you to start learning the first of several harsh lessons about not exploiting people, which you failed to learn in your past lifetime. Unlike with the Wiccan Threefold Law, the concept of karma is vast and hard to understand from our limited perspective as individuals living our daily lives.