Every day, all over the world films are made by uttering the following incantations on set: the 1st Ad calls ‘Quiet on set….sound?’ sound replies ‘speed’, the 1st Ad calls camera?’ and camera replies rolling. In this way millions of images are captured almost every moment. Yet, I have been on plenty of sets where this ritual is not given its due, where the 1st Ad calls for quiet, but does not stop to ensure everyone is ready, the sound-recordist has called ‘speed’ but has not yet pressed record, and the camera says rolling before hitting the button. This is obviously less important now we don’t worry about crystal sync motors, but it is still critical to ensure that everyone is ready to begin on the final invocation of ‘action’. This ritual reminds me (ok, maybe only a little) of the phrase ‘in perfect love, and perfect trust. It is something we say, perhaps without fully questioning if we actually do have perfect love and perfect trust in our circles.

What does it mean to enter into a circle, into a ritual and/or magical act with ‘perfect love, and perfect trust’? And, is it really necessary?

I think (wikipedia thinks) the origin of the phrase ‘in perfect love, and perfect trust’ is very recent and comes from a poem published in 1974 by a woman calling herself Lady Gwen Thompson. Thompson claimed the rede came from her grandmother, others cited its origins in the work of Gerald Gardener, or of Alistair Crowley, but is possibly based on the philosophy of John Mills, or on the words of Martin Luther (see wiccan rede). Regardless of its origins, it is an ideal that has been broadly adopted in modern witchcraft. But what does it mean, and is it necessary?

Bide the Wiccan Laws we must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

from The Long Rede by Lady Gwen Thompson
Witches: five silhouetted figures, 1870. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

‘Safe-space’ is a highly controversial idea these days; a term thrown about with as much derision as it is desire. In Perfect Love, and Perfect Trust is the invocation of safe space. An agreement between participants that we will not judge each other, that we will not cause harm, and that we extend love and respect. BUT, I don’t think this is a passive state. It is not solely up to others not to hurt us, it is our responsibility to not be hurt. I am not talking here about circumstances in which injury is intended. I am talking about the vast majority of personal injuries that happen because we have taken things personally. Though if someone is hurling insults at you, or judging you quietly it says more about them than it does you. In Perfect Love, and Perfect Trust is about radical personal accountability.

The Triumphal Chariot card from the Visconti-Sforza Tarot deck.

In Perfect Love, and Perfect Trust can remind us that we are all fallible creatures, and that when we stand in circle together we do so with best intentions, and that we agree to trust that others also have the best intentions. If we do this we can allow others to make mistakes, we can forgive easier, and forgive ourselves for our errors in judgment or behaviour. We can allow In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to create a safe space, not because we are wrapped in cotton but because we agree to trust.

This idea reminds me of the Chariot tarot card. The Chariot has no reins, we are not in control we must surrender ‘in perfect love, and perfect trust’ to the direction that our life is taking us in. Any sense of control is an illusion.

Triumphal Chariot card, Visconti-Sforza Tarot deck, 15th century. Italian

In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust is not about finding some ideal space in which magically everything is love, and agreeable to us. It is about agreeing to embrace the imperfect nature of being manifest here in this world, right now. So we can look around the circle and stand in ‘Perfect Love, and Perfect Trust’ with the awareness that we are fellow creatures in consciousness.



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