Or do I mean more than that?
Okay, start at the beginning. I think I've been questioning matters of faith and spirituality of late. Specifically, I think I've decided that all those ideas about "karma" or "The three-fold rule" and other variations are crap. Not only is it crap, but it's the same crap that I already turned my back on once, the whole "through faith you can move mountains" thing. If only you have enough faith, if only you send enough positive energy out, if only you follow The Secret, good things will happen to you.
These things all sound good until you realize that, logically speaking, the contrapositive is also implied to be true: That if good things don't happen to you, it's because you didn't have enough faith, didn't send enough good into the world, weren't positive enough.
Joanne was as positive as anyone I have ever met; she always wanted to look for the good in people, and never spoke ill of anyone, even in private. She pushed herself to do things that weren't easy. What did The World give her in return? More difficulty, more strife. Constant pain from degenerative disk disease, mobility problems from lymphedema. And, once she had found the love of her life that she said she had been waiting for for fifty-one years, The World gave her death.
Interestingly, it's possible that Gerald Gardner himself never intended the "three-fold rule" as it is taught by modern Wicca today. According to this blog, in his book 'High Magic's Aid' he described the rule completely the opposite: The witch should note when a kindness is done to her, and attempt to return the kindness three-fold. That's significantly different than "give X so the universe will give you 3 times X".
In among all of that, I also ended up reading some things about the Left-Hand Path, the "dark side," if you will. I think I had already had thoughts down those lines without really knowing it. Rejection of religious authority? Check.
Seriously though, I like that it seems to give you agency. Instead of waiting for some cosmic 'karma' force to reward you for your good deeds, you take control. You reward others' kindness with kindness of your own, and punish others' bad behavior; in other words, you teach people how to treat you.
You put yourself first because nobody else is going to--looked at from a positive view, you put yourself first because you damage your ability to take care of others if you neglect yourself.
I don't know. I suspect, much like with everything else in this life, that the truth is somewhere in the middle, the narrow path between the two ditches we all end up running off into for most of our lives.