“Thealogy (a neologism coined by Isaac Bonewits in 1974) is a discourse that reflects upon the meaning of Goddess and Her relationship to life forms. It is a discourse that critically engages the past and contemporary Goddess community’s beliefs, wisdom, embodied practices, questions, and values.”
Now that we’ve cleared up the issue of my spelling of “Thealogy,” back to the topic at hand. What is “Divine” Love? What do we mean by “Perfection?”
If you begin to see the world as a divine tapestry, woven with the love of the Goddess and God, “Love” begins to take on a different definition. If it is EVERYTHING, it is also “Whole” and “Complete” in that there are no parts missing or excluded, and that is healthy thing.
Consider the word, “Wholesome.” It is both sides of every polarity, all states of matter, all types of energy, all four seasons, all types of life-forms, all genders, all sexual preferences, all social strata, all areas of consciousness, crests/troughs, good hair days and bad hair days, red votes and blue votes, sinners and saints, etcetera and so on. Think of a “Perfect” circle; its all “god/dess.”
Well then, that stirs up the hornets nest of all kinds of controversy in today’s societal discourse, doesn’t it? Wanna piss off fundie members of the family at the next reunion? There you go; try that topic of dinner conversation.
As I choose to focus my paradigm on the polarity of Goddess LOVING God, rather than the Abrahamic paradigm of God VERSUS Satan, I find myself not in the battlefield paradigm of destruction, but in the Honeymoon Suite of creation, and that leads me to this question: Where would “evil” fit into this equation? (Check out that discourse in this blog.) More importantly, What is the polar opposite of love?
Hate? Indifference? Both of those answers have scored their share of believers, as evidenced by the many memes that show up on Facebook. Those are both in opposition to love, to be certain, but I think we have to dig deeper than that.
When I started this dedication, Venus*, threw me under the bus. All of a sudden I was confronted relentlessly with every way in which I could possibly feel unloved, threatened or disrespected. These thorns of havoc jabbed me from every direction, until I recognized them for the lesson that they were. Then different thorns would snag me. In some cases, I would experience violent physical discomfort until I recognized the thorn, then it would clear up just as quickly as it came! Today I present to you the “thorns,” my dear readers, and believe me, gathering this list hurt like hell.
So here is my list so far of the conditions necessary for me to feel loved, and by extension, fulfilled, happy and in balance:
- Acceptance: When I feel safe to be my whole self; when my inner truth can be expressed outwardly without risk of rejection, including acceptance within my community, social group, family, friendship, lovers.
- Sovereignty: When my absolute authority over my own body, mind, emotions, and spirit are respected and I have FREE WILL to be master of my fate, and make my own decisions as a being of dignity and worth. My emotional boundaries are not being threatened.
- Resources: When I know I have access to sufficient resources to make sure my physical needs of food, water, oxygen, and shelter will be met.
- Affection: We are social beasts, there is just no more base truth than how all human beings need touch and nurturing, and how ADULT humans need sexual gratification to be well-rounded, healthy people.
- Expression: When I have a means of expressing my needs/opinions as a sovereign being, and have the respect of being heard by others around me as an important person of dignity and worth. I want my place at the table, and in the voting booth, etc.
- Security: When my physical safety is not threatened, and I can let down my guard and relax and get a good night’s sleep; when my physical boundaries are not trespassed, also when my privacy is respected.
- Authenticity: When I know that I can trust that the outward appearance and declaration of any person, product, and circumstance is the actual truth, without deception or trickery. Is this just a “bait and switch” sales pitch? Does this label accurately describe the contents? It is worth what it says it is worth, etc. Are you charging me a fair rate for your services?
- Trustworthy, an extension of Authenticity: Are YOU worthy of my care, are YOU worthy to be treated with sovereignty, can I trust your expression to be well intentioned? Are the other people around me granting me the same level of courtesy, honesty, dignity, worth, security, etc., that I’m investing in them? Can I trust what you say is true? Are you actually a sheep, or just a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
This is just the short list that I’ve discovered between Imbolc and Litha. Let me plant this seed of thought: The opposite of Love grows from the root of FEAR; the fear of a LACK OF LOVE felt through acceptance, sovereignty, resources, affection, expression, security, authenticity and trustworthiness.
When we do not have these things, we are wounded, deep down in our wee-baby souls. To be denied these basic human needs for too long creates stress, and trauma, and from that grows anxiety, fearfulness, and anger, that twists and festers inside us and emerges at paranoia and hate.
Fear of a lack of love leads to selfishness, hostility, aggression, and violence wherein we lash out and impose the same transgressions that we’ve suffered onto others as a way of either getting what we need the hard way, or exacting revenge. We become the bully, and do ugly things, like a giant billboard announcing what bullet wounded us in the first place. “Thou dost protest too much!” This is the Jungian shadow, and we project our own “fears of a lack of love” onto those around us, calling out those things we hate most about ourselves.
Suffer the bullet of bigotry? You find someone different than you and become their bigot. “I may be a red-neck, but at least I’m not whitetrash.” “I may be whitetrash, but at least I’m not a nigger.” “I may be a nigger but at least I’m not a fag.” This is just another example of shit rolling down hill; there is no end to it and it is all shameful.
The bullet of name calling because you think you are too fat? You call the skinny kid on the playground names.
The bullet of homophobia? You must be terrified of your own homosexual curiosity, and if you can’t have what you want, ain’t nobody gonna get what they want.
The bullet of poverty? You steal, pillage, exploit ALL THE RESOURCES.
The bullet of sexual rejection? You rape, cheat, exploit.
The bullet of physical abuse? You try to control and hurt those weaker than you, the kids, an animal, your employee, your spouse…
I know these lessons so intimately well because I have been both the bully and bullied, and I’m not proud of that.
Why are there bullies in a world when just about everybody has heard of The Golden Rule, to Treat Others as you would like to be treated? I was raised by an evangelical Christian touting the Golden Rule at every opportunity, and she was a model human being. Yet I was rather monstrous, if I’m honest with myself. My sovereignty of mind and Spirit were not respected, I was given no voice, and no credence, and it made me ANGRY. Wounds are like that. It feels better to blow off that steam for a little while, but then it just festers further. Only love can heal those wounds.
Think about it, why do people do anti-social things? Why do people do destructive things? They are wounded; and wounded people wound others. Its a fictional example, but consider the Star Wars story, even powerful Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader because deep down he was still the former slave, afraid of death, afraid of losing his dearest love, and afraid of not having control over the uncontrollable…but even he could be saved by the love of his son. USE THE FORCE, LUKE!
The opposite of love is the fear of being hungry, alone, powerless, voiceless, rejected, or harmed. Love that is security, acceptance and the resources to survive; love that is sovereignty, free-will and respect; THAT LOVE is Divine love, and it is “perfect.”
The Thealogy of Perfection:
In Wicca there is a phrase often used when we enter sacred space with our spiritual family. We say that we enter, “In Perfect love and Perfect trust.” Perfect love, is the “whole,” Divine love that acknowledges you as a sovereign being, with dignity and worth, having ALL parts; light and shadow, good days and bad days, ups and downs, and we accept you unconditionally. A promise of “perfect love” embodies the needs of acceptance, sovereignty, resources, affection and expression. We care, you are important, and we will not abandon you just because you are having a bad day, or we disagree with one another.
However, that is a powder keg, unless it is tempered by the most important part of that statement about “Perfect Trust.” This sets the strong boundaries in place that make a safe environment for all that unconditional love you’ll be offering.
Trust embodies the needs of security, authenticity, and trustworthiness, and is the social contract between members that promises that the care that you are extending to them will be returned in equal measure, to the best of their ability. This is the trust that they are honest, authentic and trustworthy in their dealings with you, and that they will not transgress against your boundaries, while expecting the same from you in return, to the best of your ability.
This social contract is a two way street and promises that you are both trying to live up to your shared ideals, and if one of you misses the mark, then you will respectfully help them get back into your good graces, and vice versa, without a witchwar, nor name-calling, nor slander, nor gossiping behind their backs, nor cursing them into a toad. Remember, Heron’s second rule of Witchcraft is “don’t be the asshole.” If somebody starts behaving like the asshole, remember Heron’s first rule of Witchcraft is “don’t burn the witch.” I’m sure you can find a nice way to correct the situation, because that is how sovereign beings with dignity behave.
However, and this is the fly in the ointment; If all your best efforts to correct the harmful situation go unheeded, and you find yourself in the company of a person who violates your boundaries, love and trust without care, and they refuse to accept responsibility for themselves… go Gandalf on them. “You shall not pass!” Bind that behavior into oblivion, send love and light into the wound, then show them to the door with a Namaste and a smile. Be the Warrior Witch, because ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. With great power, comes great responsibility! 🙂
Which brings me to the idea of vows that people make with their partners, or their coven-mates. In both previous instances wherein I took vows to my ex-husband, and later to my former coven-mates, I asked that this line be included, “I will trust in your good intentions, as I strive to be trustworthy.” I love this idea, and I’ve tried to live up to that in every way I know how. Unfortunately, in both cases the courtesy was not returned in equal measure and I felt the harm of that betrayal. Those are still my wounds to this day.
When writing vows, and when entering into formal unions, consider how you will offer “perfect love and perfect trust” to your partner or group, meeting the conditions listed above. Parents, how are you fostering these ideals and conditions for your children? How do you train them to their sovereignty? Do they have a voice in your home that is heard and given credence? Are they safe from harm, and treated as a being of dignity and worth? I should hope so, because you should ensure they extend you the some respect and courtesy, and I know you’ve heard of the “Golden Rule” to treat others as you would like to be treated. Consider also the “harm” caused when those vows are broken, and just don’t be that person, because that makes you the asshole, and by now you know how I feel about that. DON’T DO IT!
“Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill; an it harm none, do as ye will.”
Continued from Part 1: Divine Love: The Dedication
*For the purposes of ease, I’ve begun to call the Goddess of Love by her Roman name, Venus, though I see her as one Goddess of Love with many aspects, names, faces and cultural lenses. Hey, I’m a panentheist, this is as close you’ll catch me to “polytheism” before I start to twitch. 😉