Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, what exactly does that phrase mean? We see it casually and not-so-casually tossed around in the Pagan Community by more than just Wiccans, but by Pagans of myriad denominations of Traditions and cultures, yet often times it is thrown out there only in certain circumstances. Today we are going to delve into the mysteries of Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to take a look at where it comes from, what meaning it may hold for you, and what it has to teach us.
Perusing through the community across the globe, I have noticed that many people have attempted to hold open discussions on this topic, yet many people were unwilling to participate because they were afraid of being caught up in semantics, so I’d like to clear the air about a few things before we go much farther into this. For the purposes of this article, “perfection” is a very loose term that is entirely based upon your own unique perception. Perfection has been defined as “flawless” but we know that nothing in life is ever flawless. Amongst Pagans it is often the flaws in things that make them the most beautiful in our eyes. So, solely for the purposes of this article to avoid any confusion, perfection is relative and means here, “perfect enough.” Or more specifically, something that is perfect enough for you, the reader.
A short while ago, somebody asked what it means to live in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, and when I responded, I was met with a reply from an individual who stated that those particular concepts were solely Wiccan tenants and do not apply anywhere else. Do all Pagans follow the concept of Perfect Love or Perfect Trust? So I took a look at history and came to find that most everyone, Pagan and Non-Pagan alike have followed some version of this in one form or fashion. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” the Golden Rule of Life. “An it harm none, do as thou will” the Wiccan Rede. We have known the concept of “In perfect love and perfect trust” under many different guises, the only thing that truly changed was the degree of love and trust shared amongst individuals in any given situation, and each individual’s own perceived notion of “perfection”, “love”, and “trust” which all vary from person to person.
Many people in the community believe that “in perfect love and perfect trust” is actually two different tenants which are very different, and of the two, trust is the hardest to accommodate in modern society. I have heard people claim that without this tenant, they could not accomplish as much magickally within circle. Some believe that it is the practice and belief that in order to effectively function within a circle, you must be able to trust and love your coven members implicitly. However a common faction I have seen in many an explanation of this phrase is that nobody ever notices the depth behind the words.
When I research topics, I look to even the less-than-credible sites to see what people of varying beliefs and traditions, from cultures all over the world, have to say, not just the “authorities” on Paganism. According to Yahoo! Answers, the popularly accepted answer is to love and trust without reservation because everyone within the Craft and without are here for help and guidance, though trust is still a hard commodity these days.
“The notion 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 — and often vulnerable — 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.” (Patti Wingington, Paganwiccanabout.com)
There are limitless versions of explanations on this topic available to the world, however our goal today is to get beyond just the understanding of the literal meanings behind the phraseology and to delve deeper. I’m talking about living “In perfect love and perfect trust,” the daily practical and spiritual applications to incorporate the concept into your everyday life. It has been my experience that it is important to acknowledge that the concept of “perfect love” and “perfect trust” are essential to life, and do not strictly apply only to your life within a sacred circle, but rather to all aspects of your life, especially in love, lust, and romance when developing any type of relationship with anyone, be it platonic friends, family, professional or otherwise.
For a practitioner of the Craft, the word “love” is an imprecise term. Many cultures all over the world have many different terms for different kinds of love. Most people in modern society today don’t take the time to think about all of the forms of love that actually exist, or about what we really mean when we mention the word “love.” Generally, we tend to think of love as an intense emotion portraying romantic affection or tenderness for someone or something. We often tend to fail to understand that the quality of the love, or the “flavor” as Christopher Penczak put it, is dependent upon the type of relationship you have developed. The type of relationship generally tends to dictate the level of affection, more directly the kind of love we are feeling. There is a very large and very specific difference between the types of love and relationships out there.
The love between parents and children is different from the love between siblings. One might even argue that the love between mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and fathers and daughters is very different. No one type of love is greater or better than the other, they are just different in terms of how they feel and their role in our society. The love between family members is different from the love between to passionate sexual partners. We often use the term “make love” to denote sexual intercourse, yet sex and love can be two entirely separate things. As Penczak suggests, you could have sex with someone and not really love them, or have an emotional connection, and you can love someone and never have sex with them. Romantic love can be unrequited and never consummated through sexual union, but it is still romantic love. You also have the love between friends who are not sexually involved nor related by family.
Honestly we use the term “love” for when we really enjoy something or someone, or feel we really need or want something. I personally love chocolate, I love hiking, I love healthy debates and moonlit strolls along the beach, but my love for hiking is different from my love for debates, and it sure as hell is different from my love for chocolate (we kind of have an on-again-off-again affair going on, even when I’m happily taken.) All of those types of love are still very different from my love of my parents or the love of a significant other. Yet we use the same word to describe all of these many different and very complex relationships, which makes it very difficult to truly understand the depth of different loves.
So what exactly is “perfect love?” It has often been considered one of the highest spiritual achievements beyond the personal sphere. This kind of love is called unconditional love, which is a love for, of, and by the Divine. Divine love has nothing to do with the physical world of material needs (the personal world) but rather of the impersonal world. Many mystics call this Perfect Love, the love that the Divine has for us, for we are divine. What we call “imperfect” love is a personal and attached love. This latter is also very divine, yet fully human, and it is in the experience of any love in the human world that we get a glimpse of the perfect divine love. Nothing can be done or said to take away this divine love. No matter what kind of love we discover and explore, all forms of love can lead us to the Divine. The most important key to understanding all forms of love and relationships is self-love. You must love yourself and have self-esteem before you can really experience true love for anyone or anything else.
There are several cultures around the world that have a much deeper understanding of the word love, such as the ancient Greeks. Their culture had very specific names for different types of love: eros, phileo, agape, and stergo.
Eros—Sexual or romantic love. Eros was a divine force for life, usually paired with Thanatos, the death force, and personified into the son of Aphrodite, giving us the first image that would later develop into our popular notion of Valentine’s Cupid, taking its name from Eros’s Roman counterpart and portrayed as a beautiful youth with winds and a bow and arrows, “shooting” others to inspire love. In modern Freudian psychology, it is used as a term for the libido, the urge for sexual pleasure and self-preservation.
Phileo—To have affection, not necessarily in a sexual sense. IT can refer to the love that comes with a sense of brotherhood.
Agape—A word rarely used in ancient manuscripts, but when it was, it denoted family or spousal love or the love of a particular activity. Sometimes it was used in reference to divinity, as it was used in a Greek title for the goddess Isis, Agape Theon—“beloved of the gods”—and later adopted by Christians to denote Christ’s divine, unconditional, voluntary, self-sacrificing love. It is also references in forms of modern ceremonial magick.
Stergo—A parental love, used for the love of a parent for children or the love a ruler has for his people. Stergo is how some people see religious or divine love from a parental divinity. Today this is typified by the image of the biblical Father God of Judeo-Christianity. To the mystic and Witch, however, divine love, Perfect Love, is beyond stergo.
(Penczak, Witch’s Heart)
Love is used as a term for developing relationships of any number of types, as well as a term used for divinity, a force flowing through us all. It has even been said that love is the ultimate form of energy, the best way to fuel your magick. In order to accept all of these forms of Love in order to create your own version of Perfect Love, you must be willing to keep yourself open to possibilities, open to the opportunity of love. So what exactly is “Perfect” love? That depends entirely upon you. What is perfect enough for you? How could you love something (or multiple somethings) in your life unconditionally? Just remember that when looking for love, you should be very careful what you ask for.
Now that you have explored a bit more deeply into what it means to love, does trust seem to be the most difficult objective to accomplish? Some argue that you couldn’t truly love someone if you didn’t develop some form of trust with them. I can’t say that I entirely agree. While both love and trust come naturally, they don’t always come hand-in-hand. Sometimes you have to work on developing one more than the other. Love will almost always come in some form or fashion, even if it isn’t in the form you were hoping for. Trust, on the other hand, is something you generally have to actively work on.
It is ideal to be able to trust everyone unconditionally within a circle with whom you are working magick and raising energy, but what about showing some of that unconditional and unreserved love outside of circle? I got my start in a traditional denomination of Witchcraft, so I do understand the concept of creating your own sacred space, however as a Shaman I also believe that everywhere I am is sacred space, within myself and in the world around me. The key to learning how to trust others is to acknowledge and practice trust in yourself. We are all human, we all make mistakes. It is inevitable that we will be disappointed or let down, possibly even betrayed by someone close to us, but that shouldn’t keep us from learning to trust others. We ourselves fall victim to disappointing others. I believe that unconditional trust can be shown by trusting others without expecting anything or commanding anything in return from them. Forgiveness and personal growth are what allow us to continue trusting and believing in people, they are what create the sacred spiral to life which permits us to not only recognize our interconnectivity with one another and for the Divine within us all, but also to learn from our mistakes and our successes so that we may move forward and share this unconditional trust with others.
There are limitless ways for us to show others and ourselves how to incorporate “Perfect” love and “Perfect” trust into our lives. For each of us the path to doing so will be different, as we all have our own perceptions on perfection and we each have different levels and degrees of trust and love that we connect with. So long as we learn to recognize it within ourselves we have the ability to live it daily. I believe that this is a key to our own happiness and a higher spirituality. These concepts are a part of what helps to bring the differing branches of our world-wide Pagan community together, and help us to develop a community without walls. These are some of the core concepts upon which many of my events are built. As a community Shaman, I help provide neutral grounds where we may all come together to celebrate our diversity, we rejoice in our differences and share in our similarities. There is no room for judgment when you are living In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
In love and light,
By Rev. Jonathon S. Lowe; HP
(a.k.a; Sacred Flame)
House of Sacred Mother and Child
The Spirit Mountain Project – cofounder
The Community Grimoire Project – Founder
Midnight Star School of Witchcraft – cofounder/Owner/Instructor
[A special thanks to PaganWiccanAbout.com and Yahoo! Questions, and a very special thanks to Christopher Penczak and his book “A Witch’s Heart: The Magick of Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.” For more information on how to develop a healthy relationship of any sort, especially romantically, please check out his book.]