Ordinarily the Threefold Law is not where I would start with a lesson on “What is Wicca to Me.” Rather, I would begin with a simple definition such as: Wicca is a nature religion based on the pagan beliefs and practices of pre-Christian Western Europe that draws on modern spiritual philosophies of both the West and East for its continuing development. This is a somewhat different definition than most would give–they would mention the Goddess and a belief in magic, the Rede, etc., but since I was elevated to the third degree and granted the title High Priestess, I have come to understand that Wicca is far more global now than it was even twenty years ago, and as such the definition has to adjust to more accurately reflect the religion. This is part of what is beautiful about Wicca. It is a dynamic faith, not a static dogma.
As such, I’m going to exercise my right to jump into the middle instead of the beginning.
I am doing this for one major reason: Life lessons don’t always occur in a neat and predetermined order. There is no single linear progression from childhood to adulthood. All journeys, like all faiths, are valid paths. Experience is a great teacher, and my husband and I have recently had direct experience with the power of the Threefold Law.
The Threefold Law is stated in many ways, and it is found in different faiths. “Ever mind the rule of three, what you send out comes back to thee.” This is a version of the principle of karma, or the better known Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated). The implication of the Law is that whatever you do, good or ill, will return to you three times stronger. This is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, you cannot expect that if you give someone five dollars, you will get fifteen back. There are certainly philosophies of business that tell us you have to spend money to make money, but that is not what the Threefold Law is specifically trying to teach us.
One of the criticisms of the Law is that it seems to imply a certain level of selfishness as the motivating factor for a person to do “good works.” Do something good, and you will get even more goodness in your life. I would say that this is the same failing of the Christian philosophy of good works, i.e. you must do good works to get into Heaven (I realize not all Christian religions believe this). If that is the only reason you participate in charity then your actions are selfishly motivated. Many Christians I know would balk at this, and they should–but why? Well, a philosophy that promotes egotism is not usually looked upon favorably. In fact that only one I know that actively advocates for egotism is LaVeyan Satanism, and while I personally would never denigrate that path or those who follow it, there are many people who would be very uncomfortable to be compared with that segment of society. As I said before, they should be aghast at such a comparison, not because they would be “wrong” or “evil” to be similar to an egotist philosophy, but because it demonstrates a gross lack of understanding of why it is necessary to do good works.
The Threefold Law is not about egotism. It is not about trying to reap the maximum benefits for oneself. In fact, it is a law not because it must be followed and, if broken, a person must make atonement for their sin. It is a law in the same way that a principle is a law in science: it is a description of how the universe works. In fact this principle is stated as a physical law in another way: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As we are talking about spirituality it is, of course, still abstract in its application to life and human choices as give and take is sometimes impossible to quantify. The Law is another way of stating this physical law and serves to remind us of this: our choices and our actions have consequences.
My preferred analogy for this is the pebble in the pond. I think I am partial to this image because we used the pebble in the pond several times over in my high school and college physics courses to describe natural laws and phenomena, especially in regards to how waves work. When referring to the Threefold Law, an individual’s thought/action is the pebble, and the pond is the universe. Yes. The universe. When you drop the pebble in the pond, the largest waves appear right around where it hit the water–this represents the people and places that are closest to you physically and emotionally. As you get further away from where the pebble was dropped, the waves are smaller, but they are still affecting the pond–the energy is still being carried through the water. This effects the algae in the pond, erodes the dirt as its edges–it’s subtle and not immediately apparent, but overtime the whole environment is affected.
Here is the brief synopsis of the story that brought about this particular thought process: My husband has been friends with someone for going on ten years. Recently he came to realization that this particular individual was not the kind of person he wanted to spend energy on anymore. After many painful days of consideration and discussion, he chose to end the friendship. Several people rejoiced–we saw this particular person as a very negative presence in my husband’s life. A week later my husband, out of the blue, spent a huge sum of money on me (he bought me a SurfacePro3) and he wrote me a beautiful message about how much loves me. This is a selfless act of a magnitude I’ve never seen out of him before. The very next day, he was offered a full time job with benefits and a salary that is going to enable us to buy a nice home in a safe community for our future family in addition to the Xbox One Titanfall package he’s been coveting (and he’s playing right now). I am not going to say that his sacrifices and generosity directly caused him to reap these amazing benefits, but I will say that I believe his sacrifices and generosity created a wealth of positive energy in our lives, and it is reflected in the happiness of our home.
Our choices have consequences–not just on those closest to us, but also those we haven’t even met yet. Whatever your motivating factor for your choices, it ought to be informed by your philosophy, beliefs, modus operandi, whatever. That is between you and whatever higher power you may or may not believe in. Just keep in mind that what you do, and do not do, can affect you, your loved ones, even the world–now, soon, and in the distant future.