Rule of Three (Wicca):
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Rule of Three (also Three-fold Law or Law of Return) is a religious tenet held by some Wiccans. It states that whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be returned to that person three times. Some subscribe to a variant of this law in which return is not necessarily threefold.
The ‘Rule of Three’ is sometimes described as karma by Wiccans, however this is not strictly accurate. Both concepts describe the process of cause and effect and often encourage the individual to act in a good way. However the concept of karma, according to the scriptures of Buddhism, Hinduism and other eastern belief systems, does not operate on a system of three-fold return. Furthermore, such belief systems do not contain the same concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ that Wicca does.
According to John Coughlin the Law posits “a literal reward or punishment tied to one’s actions, particularly when it comes to working magic”. The law is not a universal article of faith among Wiccans, and “there are many Wiccans, experienced and new alike, who view the Law of Return as an over-elaboration on the Wiccan Rede.” Some Wiccans believe that it is a modern innovation based on Christian morality.
The Rule of Three has been compared by Karl Lembke to other ethics of reciprocity, such as the concept of karma in Dharmic religions and the Christian edict, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12), also called the “Golden Rule.”
The Rule of Three has a possible prototype in a piece of Wiccan liturgy which first appeared in print in Gerald Gardner’s 1949 novel High Magic’s Aid:
‘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 first published reference to the Rule of Three as a general ethical principle may be from Raymond Buckland, in a 1968 article for Beyond magazine. 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 and attributed to her grandmother Adriana Porter. The threefold rule is referenced often by the neo-Wiccans of the Clan Mackenzie in the S.M. Stirling Emberverse novels.
This rule was described by the Dutch metal band Nemesea, in the song “Threefold Law”, from the album “Mana”.
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