The Goddess, alone in the universe She had created, felt a need to be companion-ed, mirrored, partnered. So She divided Herself to create that partner, and the God was born. To see Him was to desire Him, and the Goddess felt desire. Dancing, swaying, singing the first spell ever known, She seduced Him. They loved and were One again; and out of Their love the world of matter was born.
In one form or another, this is the central myth of Traditional Wicca. The Goddess and God, the Perfect Couple, completing each other on all levels and in that completion creating the Universe. It is a beautiful myth, one of enormous power both magically and psychologically.
In our rituals the theme is repeated, as the Priest and Priestess take on the mantle of Deity to enact the myth, embrace in the kiss of consecration, and symbolically or directly to perform the Great Rite, the heiros gamos. To the participant in such a ritual, even just as an observer, the experience is profoundly moving, sometimes even disturbing.
Nothing in modern society prepares us for this open, unabashed celebration of the sexual urge as something holy. Yet to the inherently mystical personality, that fact has always been self-evident. If life is good — and it is — then that which gives life and joy and a sense of completion is more than good. It is divine.
The Jungian theory of the anima and animus, each man’s inner feminine, each woman’s inner masculine component, restates the myth in psychological rather than religious terms and reiterates the theme of the reunification of sundered halves to make a whole that is all the more complete for having known separateness. This seeking for a lost “other half” is why we are attracted to the people we are: they remind us of our own animus or anima. Jung would say that we “project” it onto potential mates.
When the process takes place entirely in the unconscious, behind the scenes as it were, it can lead to disaster. We marry a harridan just like Mom, a wife-beater just like Dad. Or we waste our life in increasingly frantic bed-hopping, hoping that this will finally be “the one”. Or we quit hoping at all, and settle for meaninglessness.
With Wiccans, the process is deliberate, and therefore (theoretically) under some control. We see someone as anima or animus, as Goddess or God, because we choose to. We invoke divinity into a particular person, and like the attendees at a 19th-century séance, relate to the Personage through the medium of the person. There is a strong resemblance, here, to some of the practices of Tantra.
Abraham Maslow, in his “Religions, Values and Peak Experience”, argues persuasively that a man who cannot sometimes see his wife as a goddess, a woman who never sees her husband as a god, does not really love. Granting Maslow’s 30-years-out-of-date conventionality in specifying “wife” and “husband” rather than “woman” and “man”, every Wiccan would agree. In Circle and out of it, we have the uniquely Wiccan delight of embracing a God, a Goddess, and knowing it.
In Irish mythology, it was said that on the night before a battle the Morrigan, Goddess of battle and lust, used her foreknowledge to choose a lover from among those champions destined to be slain. All night long She loved him as deeply, as fiercely, and as perfectly as only a Goddess can. And when his death was upon him he died gladly, knowing that he had indeed been loved by a Goddess, and that the love of mortal women, even life itself, would be but ashes thereafter.
Something rather like that seems to happen to some Wiccans. Having once experienced the sexual epiphany of a powerful Great Rite, some of us thereafter need all our sexual encounters to be that earth-shaking. Like the love of the Morrigan, our Divine encounters seem to leave us unfit for the joys of ordinary mortals, unable to enjoy the kind of tired-but-horny bedtime lovemaking that is the pleasant staple of most couples’ sexual diet.
In a disturbing mirror-image of Maslow’s observation, we can not only sometimes see the God or Goddess in our beloved, we require it of them.
We become unable or unwilling to continue loving once it dawns on us that most of the time this being we have hooked up with is an ordinary mortal who gains weight, disagrees with us, and farts in bed. We feel cheated and betrayed, and go looking for another Perfect Lover to carry us with little effort on our part into realms of ecstasy.
Instead of enriching and ennobling our relationships, as our unique perspective ought to, more often than not it merely destabilizes them. The ideal of the Perfect Couple becomes a phantasm, a sad, dysfunctional fantasy need.
Part of the priest-craft of the Craft is learning to assume the mantle of the Goddess or God at will; a part of it also is — or should be — turning it off again at the Circle’s edge. Except for those moments in ritual, magical partners, even when they are also lovers, are not the Perfect Couple.
Perfect union, perfect love, cannot exist in this plane. Not for long. It is possible only to partake of that perfection once in a while, when we’re lucky or the Gods are with us. Recognize it for the miracle it is, revel in it, rut in it, but don’t count on it.
And the next time your lover farts in bed, snuggle close and whisper, “Thou art God.”