Mystic Magic: The Rule of Three
Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief
For those that were not aware, I consider myself an eclectic witch. I draw from a number of different paths in order to practice my craft. One thing I do not subscribe to, though, is the Rule of Three.
The Law of the Threefold Return is generally attributed to Wicca. Basically, the Rule of Three decrees that whatever you put into the universe, magically or otherwise, will return to you threefold.
I believe that if you start slinging hexes and curses before you are ready, they might come back to bite you. If you throw something at someone who is well protected, that can also turn on you. I do not believe, though, that if I hex someone, something bad will happen to me threefold.
According to Learn Religions, one of the first instances of the Rule of Three appeared in a book of Gerald Gardner’s, the father of Wicca, where he stated that doing good would return the good to you three times over.
For the most part, it seems to be a rule to keep new Wiccans and witches on the straight and narrow. While not personally true for me, sometimes when people first get into Wicca and witchcraft, and especially in the age of WitchTok, they do not do their research first.
Beginners will jump right into things and think they are indestructible, all-magical forces of nature. I can see how the Rule of Three would help there, as a cautionary tale of throwing magic and intentions into the universe before you have done your research or thought out the consequences. However, there is a flip side to this coin.
I have done research into the so-called Left and Right Hand Paths, or two different approaches you can take on your magical journey. Firstly, the use of Left and Right Hand are biased terms, much like the use of white and black magic, but we can go into that in a later article.
Secondly, the main difference between the Left and Right Hand Paths that I could find was that the Right Hand was focused more on nature and community, less on the self. Left Hand focuses more on the self, working towards your own goals, and the rejection of social norms and authority, and is thus generally construed as “bad” or “black magic.”
I have the same problem with the Rule of Three that I do with the distinction between the Paths. To me, it seems more shaming than anything. For the Paths, it shames those who perform magic for themselves, rather than the community or nature as a whole. It shames the people who decide to use hexes in their craft.
The Rule of Three does the same thing. From what I have seen, it is mostly used to shame people who have incorporated hexes and the like into their craft. It does not sit right with me, because the basis of the rule is not correct either. Just because you do something good does not mean you will have good returned to you, and vice versa; the Rule of Three is not a universal law.
While I do think you reap what you sow, I simply cannot get behind the Threefold Law. That is not to say that everyone who follows the Rule of Three is bad, but it is just not something I personally believe in.