Bide the Wiccan Law ye must; in perfect love, in perfect trust.
This is the first line of the Wiccan Rede, and where we'll start off.
Mark Ventimiglia starts by describing the rise of Christianity and the Church's efforts to convert other countries to their religion. (Any typos are mine.)
"However, there was not the immediate mass conversion to Christianity that history often suggests. The new religion was just that, a newly created man-made religion. It did not evolve slowly over many millenniums, as did Paganism. In fact, often entire nations were classified as Christian countries when in truth it was only their leaders who had adopted the new faith. Throughout the whole of Europe, and Britain as well, paganism continued to exist, more or less, during the first thousand years of Christianity." -- Mark Ventimiglia
There is no doubt that the Catholic Church held great power in this time. In my opinion, it was more influential than kings, especially at it's height. It still holds power today. Now I mean no disrespect to the Catholic Church, but I don't think I would have enjoyed being alive during that time. Despite the pressure to convert, paganism lived on through different people. There is enough history of witch hunts to prove this.
The height of witch hunts in Europe began in the 1500s and largely came to an end in the late 1600s. Nearly everyone is familiar with the famous Salem Witch Trials that occurred in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Nineteen people were hanged for witch craft, one man was pressed to death, and several more died in prison. There are many different theorized causes of that time of hysteria. All that I can say is that many good people had their lives destroyed by these hunts. Many of those killed probably had nothing to do with paganism, but that is a different story.
Fact is that anyone who actually did practice witchcraft had every reason to fear during that stretch of time. Just looking at the implements of torture that were also popular during the time, I couldn't blame them. I can't even bear to read about those methods of torture. Again, I'm very glad I didn't live during that time period.
So we come to the point, and what Mark Ventimiglia believes the first line of the Wiccan Rede means. It is an oath for practitioners to live by. This is almost hard to imagine today, because in their time it meant that if a member of the coven was captured and tortured, they would never reveal whoever else was a witch. I cannot attest to how well they were or were not able to keep their oath. Many non-pagans were tortured until they confessed imaginary crimes as well.
The dark times are behind us, fortunately. What does "perfect love" and "perfect trust" mean in today's world?
Love and trust are essential in a relationship with another person. When joining a coven, it is important that you are able to completely trust the other members and that they are also able to trust you. You should feel completely comfortable. Magic isn't about glitz and glam, or snapping your fingers and turning people into toads. It is a spiritual religion, a way of thinking about the world and how to live your life.
"In perfect love, in Perfect trust", in my opinion, reflects a deep level of commitment. There is true belief involved, dedication, and love in your heart. If any of these are lacking, then nothing else will work, which is why the Wiccan Rede begins with this line. After all, you have to believe in magic for it to work. What is the point in following a faith, a system of beliefs that you yourself do not believe in?
Thoughts? These are just mine.