‘In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust’… these words are heard often in Wiccan circles and covens everywhere. But where did they come from and what do they mean? Is it actually possible to have ‘perfect’ love and ‘perfect’ trust?
These six words appear in what is known as The Wiccan Rede (Rede of the Wiccae), a poem of 26 rhyming couplets published by Lady Gwen Thompson (1928-1996), and said to have been written by her grandmother Adriana Porter in the 1930’s. However, the Wiccan Rede has an older tradition, it also being found in the writings of Gerald Gardner, the so-called Father of Modern Witchcraft.
Now bear in mind that ‘perfect love and perfect trust’ is not applicable to everyone as it is a Wiccan admonition [Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust]. So obviously people of other pagan persuasions and paths do not necessarily hold to this. However, for the Wiccan it is a phrase that really is very powerful in their spiritual path. The idea of perfect love and perfect trust is a simple one: that you are safe within the circle of your coven’s practices. To stand in a circle with someone is to share an intimate space with them, and it can only be done effectively with someone whom you trust implicitly. By that same token, if we are able to love our coven brothers or sisters, we are able to trust them with our safety and our lives. Most often it is something expected of coven members and not people outside the coven. This might hearken back to the ‘bad old day’s when Witchcraft was illegal, witches were persecuted, and one had to really be able to trust one’s covenmates on pain of death.
So how are we supposed to interpret this phrase? Well to a spiritual person this concept is multi-layered – not only should we have trust in those around us, but also in the deities we give honour to, as well as our spirit guides etc. However, we do this not because someone tells us to trust them but from our personal experiences with them. It’s the same with love – we love because of our experience of love with them. But this is all well and good but what does it mean as regards other human beings with whom we are supposed to have perfect love and perfect trust. Most, if not all of us, have been badly hurt at some time in the past and for some of us loving and trusting another doesn’t come easy.
From my own experience I had to begin by learning to love and trust myself first. That’s not easy either and sometimes all I can manage is acceptance of myself. But is that enough? Yes, I think it is actually. Acceptance means I’m not beating up on myself, not resorting to self-harm as I used to, and all the other detrimental coping mechanisms I used to employ. Acceptance of oneself and others is good! Does this mean I believe in ‘perfect’ love and trust? Well I think it is something to strive for but I’m not sure it is manageable for us humans, as we are not actually perfect. However, in striving for it we need to exercise responsibility and discernment don’t we. For example, would I take a walk in a rough neighbourhood after dark and expect perfect love and perfect trust to be exercised? No, of course I wouldn’t! Would I have perfect love and perfect trust towards a complete stranger? No, of course not! Love and trust need to be cultivated and earned.
We can, however, practice the spirit of perfect love and perfect trust, even though we won’t actually manifest it perfectly. how can we do this? Well, by being discerning about what we say and do…taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions…treating others in the same way we would like to be treated…trying not to judge others too harshly (yes, I am still working on this one folks!)…practicing mindfulness, which will help us not to blurt out stuff we later regret…knowing and understanding that we are ALL part of the Web of Life. All these things can help us live in the spirit of perfect love and trust, whether we are Wiccan or not. In fact, I think all spiritual paths, pagan or not, have similar concepts but are just known by different names.
While writing this I remembered the recent hoo haa about ‘fat’ issues amongst the Pagan community. It got quite nasty apparently but that’s the thing, there doesn’t NEED to be all these arguments and nastiness within any kind of community whether pagan or not if we try to practice tolerance, compassion, love and trust. If we just put our own egos in their proper place life would run much more smoothly. I know this from experience because a few years ago I would have been the first person to write a stinging comment in answer to someone I didn’t agree with. However, now I just walk away and cool down if it gets my gander up. Then I might go back and write a reasonable response. My life has been far happier doing that than it was before. Oh yes, there are times when I forget this and shoot my mouth off, and then cringe afterwards (did I REALLY say such and such?) but yes, I’m a human being and my spirit is learning what it’s like to be human. So, I keep trying to practice the ideal of perfect love and perfect trust but just not perfectly.