Thursday, September 16, 2004

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust?

(c) Andy Ternay
  • I think this is the coolest altar we have ever had. Kudos to Pheonix.

  • In Perfect love and perfect trust—Wiccan Rede

    We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection—Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

    Perfect love is a lot to ask from a human being as is perfect trust. The perfect trust thing gets harder when somebody is asking me how I enter circle with a sword held, pointed to thrust into my face. At that exact moment I do not feel perfect anything. Well, other than that you’d better be perfectly damn careful with a sword held that close to my eye.

    I have never liked that phrase, perfect love, perfect trust. In all of my life, I have never given anything or anyone perfect love or perfect trust. I do not believe that I am capable of doing so. Nor do I anticipate that anybody entering any circle I cast will be able to do so. If they can do so, they are a walking incarnation of the Divine; and frankly, maybe they should then be the one to cast circle.

    I have read that the historical reasons for the phrase are that people’s lives were on the line. If one member of the coven was caught (by the literal witch hunters) they could bring about the deaths of all the coven if they revealed who took part in things. Hence the very secretive nature of covens, the necessity of challenging those who enter circle and the demand of the impossible: that a human take on the mantle of the Divine by showing perfection of both love and trust.

    I will honestly say now that I prefer the realistic expectation of the second introductory quote to the first. I can handle progress, not perfection. It is both a realistic and challenging expectation. I don’t get to sit like a bump on a log, I have to work toward my goal of becoming more like the person the Goddess wants me to be. It takes time and it takes effort to do this. All worthwhile endeavors take both time and effort to achieve.

    My coven recently changed part of the cakes and ale segment of the ritual. A guest from another coven explained that the phrases “may you never hunger” bothered him. One should experience hunger because only then do you appreciate the food. One should experience hunger for it motivates one to strive for more. That makes sense to us, so we have adopted “May your hunger always be satisfied” in place of never hungering.

    In that same vein, I would like to replace “perfect love and perfect trust.”

    When I enter circle, intent upon ritual, attempting to connect to the Goddess and I am asked how I enter that circle, I am very uncomfortable entering the circle with a lie. I know that I am not entering with perfect love. I know that I lack perfect trust. These are ideals I strive towards, not goals I have attained. How do I enter circle? With the best love and trust I can.

    I have entered circle at a large, public, ritual where there were people I did not like or trust present. I am willing that the Goddess give them in their lives what I want in my own: love, serenity, family, prosperity, faith, etc. These are not hypocritical prayers, I really hope these things for them. Do I trust them? Not a bit. If they are beside me during ritual, I want to hold their hand. That way I can keep them from stabbing me in the back. Do I love them? Honestly, no. I try to be tolerant of them.

    I wonder if it is possible to change that part of the “Wiccan canon” to allow us to enter with the best love and trust we can muster. I hope so, I am very uncomfortable with this small part of the ritual.