View Full Version : The Three-Fold Return - an explanation ?

04-10-2010, 11:22 AM
Here’s something I’ve been worrying at for some time. From the start I was OK about the reciprocation angle but could not work why the x3 multiplier. I came up with this. Now, I’m not saying it is THE answer but it could be AN answer. Makes me happy but maybe I’m easily satisfied. See what you think.


“Mind the threefold law you should,
Three times bad and three times good.”

“All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm also returned three fold.”

This command or advisory seems to occur over and over in most philosophies and religions from the simple “Do as you would be done by” to the folksy “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

There has been much discussion as to whether this is Law or Lore, particularly in pagan wicca.
The three-fold multiplier I always took as another example of mankind’s fascination with the number three – Father, Son, Holy Ghost ; Maiden, Women, Crone ; etc. Even the physical nature of matter – solid, liquid, gas [ignore plasma for the moment]

As well as being a wanderer, I am also a ponderer – both at the same time ! Thinking – dangerous, I know. But I started on a chain of thought that lead me to believe that this three-foldness might be actual.


“….. it comes back at you on all three aspects of your life – mind, body, and spirit.”

This struck a thought chain. Firstly, there something about the trilogy in the human psyche .The tripod is a most stable form. Also think about the construction of the pyramids.
Another : id, ego, superego.

I think also that I would like to propose that good and evil are just aspects of human thinking and behaviour. Evil is an aspect which is by common consensus and as no-one is pure evil, so stands to reason that no-one is pure good.
We may think in our conscious mind that we have no ulterior motives in performing an act classified as “good”, but there is a major part of mind that is below the level of consciousness and this is the area of basic drives, instincts, and reactions – the flight or fight mechanism is a good example as it is purely biochemical in nature and not mediated. Also in this area are the basic mechanics of life maintenance – you don’t have to think to breathe [ experts say it is very difficult for a healthy person to drown themselves as the unconscious comes in to play when consciousness is fading and forces struggle to survive.]
Should we substitute “lore” for “law” – now that appeals to my two guidelines – Does it make sense ? and “Does it feel right ?”
Lore is generally based on observation rather than statute and so, in my opinion, is more valuable because it is empirical.
Starting to write this has awakened some dormant brain cells. Some time ago, when I was still polluting the planet with toxic chemicals, I was seconded to Australia to work. To amuse myself, I took a short course at the Uni. of Queensland. It was Transactional Analysis. The basic model was very similar to the Freudian model of id, ego, superego i.e. Adult, Parent, Child and I was very impressed at the time.

Transactional Analysis and the 3-Fold Law [Lore]
Proposed are three ego states Adult, Parent, Child with positive and negative aspects to all three. I wonder if this is the three-foldness of the law. Does any act, good or bad, rebound on all three ego states ? Could this be the multiplier ?
First some flesh on the bones – think of positive and negative behaviour in the three.

Adult : +ve – impartial judge, concerned purely with weighing the facts and reaching an opinion. Not ruled by emotion or by personal motives but logic. Computer-like.
-ve – cold, distant, not concerned with the impact on others. Over fussy in application of logic over common sense, arrogant.

Parent : +ve – caring, protective, nurturing, loving, stalwart in defence of a child.
-ve - dictatorial bully, uncaring, prejudiced.
[How many times do we say “because I say so” to a childs question of “But why ?”

Child : +ve – impulsive, creative, joyful, loving, trusting, spontaneous, etc
-ve – manipulative, cruel, selfish etc
[At what age do children learn to manipulate parents ? Common sight in supermarkets]
Children have the potential to be savage little animals especially to other children.
Ever thought where we learn our prejudices ? – from our parents !
Think about the things your parents did that you hated. Are you doing the same to your children ?
Ideally, in personal transactions, adult will relate to adult and disagreements will be decide purely on merit if both are +ve. But if both are –ve, then it will be decided on prejudice and belief and when did that ever work ? Israelis/Palestinians, Northern Ireland, Balkans.
Similarly, a +ve parent can respond to both +ve and –ve child state but a –ve parent will cow a positive child and reinforce the destructive behaviour of a –ve child.
+ve child to +ve child will result in deep, long-lasting friendships; +ve to –ve will result in a superior-subordinate relationship; -ve to –ve will form long-lasting enmity which will spill over into family feuds.
These +ve to –ve links are referred to as crossed transactions and a good knowledge of this form of analysis can equip you for many interpersonal tasks. However, it can also give you the skill to manipulate other people to your own benefit.

So, how could this link into the 3-fold law[lore] ?
Child state = id. Based on feelings, emotions, unconscious actions.
Adult = superego. Tends to oppose the destructive instincts of the child because of conflicting objectives. Acts as your conscience and maintains your sense of morality.
Parent state = ego - personality [ childs potential modified by life experience] Its task is to find a balance between the child, the adult and the outside world i.e. primitive drives of the child, morality of the adult, and reality. Main concern is with personal safety but only so far as this does not conflict with reality and society’s norms. It modifies the responses of the child in reducing excesses of fight or flight.

In broad terms then, if we do evil, this will be reflected in the –ve child behaviour as justification or satisfaction of the –ve personality characteristics. This will be moved up the line to the –ve parent state which will defend the destructive behaviour of the child state whatever the consequence and will act as a further reinforcement of that behaviour. How many times have we seen this kind of defensive behaviour from parents of the most heinous criminal ? This will be picked up by the –ve adult state which will modify its sense of morality and impartiality. So, a three-fold return.
Similarly, a good act will be returned to a +ve child state by the reaction of society i.e. approval which will reinforce the child behaviour in seeking to maintain this approval. This positive feedback will be picked up by the +ve parent as natural pride in the accomplishments of the child state and “good” could then form part of the personality. Finally, the +ve adult will re-align the individual’s place in society and strengthen the sense of morality. Again, a three-fold return.

Despite originally thinking that the three-fold return to be purely allegorical, I am now starting to think it might be actual because of the nature of mankind’s biochemistry and psychology.

However, the fly in the ointment are the Laws of Thermodynamics.

“To every action, there is a reaction which is equal and opposite”

So in Cause and Effect terms, a good deed should be met by a three-fold bad response.

04-10-2010, 02:02 PM
Norseman, beautiful pictures, by the way. I enjoyed them.
As to the threefold law, I think that it would be that every person is a mirror of ourselves and what we send out reflects back to us. A pagan charm is often mirrors hung facing away from the house. So if negative energies are sent to us, they would be reflected back to the sender threefold. 3 is also a sacred, magical number in many cultures. Earth, moon, sun. Father, mother , child. A 3 legged milking stool ( just wanted to see if you were paying attention):wink:
But I think the Rede is more of a teaching lesson that one MUST be very careful of what you do as it will return threefold to the sender. There is also the rule, "In that it harm none, do as ye will". If you take that directive apart ,I was taught, that you must look at a spell's consequences from at least 7 perspectives. If you can find only one perspective that you might cause harm, pain, loss or a forcing of your will onto another, then you best not do the spellcasting. Because if it influences even one person to do something that they would not otherwise have done, you could be in deep horse (or cow) manure.

04-10-2010, 03:00 PM
Thats brilliant Norseman. I too am a worrier and do it quite efficently even if i do say so myself :D

I do think alot of spellcasting and prayers is about your intention and if your intention is pure and good, then the effects will also be good and pure. Although i am no expert so i might be talking rubbish but that is my view. I think if you follow the basics - ie "harm none" "returns three-fold" etc etc then you are fine. I think intetion is everything :)

I hope that makes sense...if not feel free to correct me :)

06-10-2010, 12:49 PM
Thats brilliant Norseman. I too am a worrier and do it quite efficently even if i do say so myself :D

I do think alot of spellcasting and prayers is about your intention and if your intention is pure and good, then the effects will also be good and pure. Although i am no expert so i might be talking rubbish but that is my view. I think if you follow the basics - ie "harm none" "returns three-fold" etc etc then you are fine. I think intetion is everything :)

I hope that makes sense...if not feel free to correct me :)

Yes that "Harm no One, Do as you Wish" law is present with all energy work.

Your insights on intention are quite accurate, and powerful.


08-10-2010, 09:49 AM
very interesting post, thank you :D

I've always had issues surrounding the three fold law, karam etc. never really known my own feelings on them. Somethings show that yes things can come back to you either negativly or positivly, but also there are some situations which go against the ideoloy of the law.

For example, i have a good family friend who had a very rough upbringing (alcoholic parent etc), she has created her own family home, three children, a successful business, and is a qualified counceller. Shes a very positive, upbeat person, and rarely does anything wrong, and yet she has the most unbelievable things happen to her and her family. ranging from: car crashes, stolen cars, family problems, staff issues, burglery etc. there is no reason as to why she gets such terrible things happen, yet she takes it in her stride and says that these things happen so that she can better empathise and help with her clients in her councelling business, which in turn help other people.

And i have to agree with her, i dont believe her or her family deserve such things to happen so much, but it helps her help other people.:hug: