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Wiccan Threefold Law Is Overrated

The Wiccan Threefold Law states that the good or evil deeds that you commit will return to you threefold. This is a uniquely Wiccan concept. Many different cultures believe that everyone’s actions send ripples throughout the web of the universe that affect us all, however faintly, because we are all interconnected to various degrees of closeness. But only we Wiccans put a number on it – threefold, whatever that means. Experienced Wiccans bring up the Wiccan Threefold Law to new Wiccans excitedly discussing their first attempts at casting spells. But I believe the Wiccan Threefold Law is overrated. There are similar concepts by which to live one’s life that are far better expressed.

To me, the Wiccan Threefold Law is one of the aspects of our faith that has the superficial feel of Gerald Gardner and other Wiccan founders trying too hard to invent a religion too quickly. Its purpose – to alert us to the consequences of our actions – is good, but it could have been better expressed. For example, take the word “threefold,” which Gerald Gardner first used to describe this concept of cause and effect in his 1949 novel High Magic’s Aid. Does threefold mean your good or bad action will return to you three separate times, or only once but three times as strong? Wiccans are in disagreement on this, and perhaps it should have been clarified before the concept solidified into an actual rule of conduct.

Meanwhile, the Wiccan Threefold Law is not a law, not according to the two most relevant definitions in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The first definition is “a binding custom or practice of a community: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority”. Obviously, there is no way that the Wiccan community could make sure that everyone’s action returns to him threefold. The second definition fits the context best: “a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions”. But the Wiccan Threefold Law is not like the law of gravity, which can be repeatedly proved by a controlled set of experiments. Therefore, it might be a theory, but it is not a physical law.

There are better ways than the Wiccan Threefold Law to remind us of the consequences of our action – such as that we are all connected, and every action ripples across the web of the universe and affects us all. This leads us to the Golden Rule, which is universal across all religions: treat other people the way you want to be treated. Do good things because you are a good person. This is a far better code of conduct than the Wiccan Threefold Law, which promotes a selfish tendency to avoid committing evil out of fear of punishment and to do good only to reap a future reward.

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