The Perfect Pagan
Back in the early days of this blog, we mentioned a beta version of our Covenpath course. The course is structured for those who have committed to a Pagan faith, but are relatively new to the practice of Wicca.
When testing the beta version of the course, it was important to have a wide variety of students. In order to get a more rounded viewpoint of what needed fixing, what worked, and what could be expanded upon, we needed both newbies and crones.
The range of experience helped immensely, but it also allowed for some interesting observations. A few students felt that they had an unfair advantage over other students and were eager to push ahead. Others seemed to feel they needed to push through the tasks quickly to “keep up” with their fellow betas.
We didn’t expect or intend to create this competitive energy, especially considering that the Covenpath is all about personal growth. The result of that energy was that students weren’t getting as much from this course as we’d hoped.
The time spent worrying about where other students were in the course made the whole thing a bit less enjoyable for everyone. The betas put so much stress on themselves to be the perfect student that they seemed to forget the purpose of the Covenpath course.
Later this year, the course will be launched publicly on the Maiden’s Circle website. We’ve taken some steps to prevent a repeat of the competitiveness, and it seemed prudent to discuss the subject of toxic perfectionism.
Chasing perfection is an endless quest
Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s an unhealthy and unreachable ideal. We’ve created a society in which people are always striving for some idealized version of themselves. When we imagine our Perfect Self, it makes us that much more aware of our perceived flaws.
What often ends up happening is we start to see that Perfect Self as a separate entity—much in the way that some people see the soul as separate from the body. Creating a mental separation between our True Self and our Perfect Self often causes a cognitive dissonance, leaving us unsure of who we are.
Striving for that unattainable Perfect Self leads to the constant feeling that we’re never good enough. We feel like impostors, regardless of our own legitimate experiences.
This can happen to anyone. Even doctors at the top of their field still face this self-doubt created by the need to be the best. It doesn’t help that we as a society tend to assume that someone in that position is perfect—at least when it comes to their expertise.
This is unfair to professionals and it’s unfair to ourselves. We’re all people. We’re humans trying our best to live happy, fulfilling lives. Trying to be perfect to the point of distracting and making ourselves feel bad is in direct conflict with that.
Chasing perfection makes it harder to enjoy stuff
Life should be enjoyed. Being on a constant quest towards perfection makes that harder. In our case, it makes the practice of Wicca much less fun. Yes, our faith is very real and serious, but it is built on love.
Doreen Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess is a Wiccan text that is spoken in the perspective of the Goddess. It states:
Let My worship be within the heart that rejoices,
for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
It’s important to remember that most of us chose Wicca because of the way it makes us feel. Shouldn’t we want to feel good during our practice? Not to ignore the darker sides of our work, but to balance it with love and joy.
Chasing perfection distracts from Pagan work
It could be argued that striving to be a perfect Pagan is the best way to be a bad one. If we’re so focused on perfection, we risk being distracted, and it may even close us off energetically, making all of our spiritual work that much more difficult. It could even make our works entirely ineffective.
During spellwork, it’s important that we’re relaxed and focused on our goal. The same goes for certain meditations and activities used in the Covenpath course. If we’re paying more attention to what we’re doing “right” and “wrong,” then we won’t benefit from the work we’re doing.
Especially when it comes to the course, our goal should be to learn as we go. That means embracing the mistakes and loving the mishaps. In all my years of practice, I’ve never attended a group ritual where everything went exactly as planned. And that’s okay.
Life isn’t perfect and, again, neither are we. We’ve just got to roll with the changes and try to enjoy the ride.
Just Be You
When the Covenpath course launches, along with some other MCCA goodies, we want to make it clear that this path is both a communal and a very personal one. We share it with one another, but our connection with the Goddess has to be forged within us.
We are not in competition to see who’s the better Pagan. We do not invite witch wars or offer degrees and rankings. There is a hierarchy in the structure of Maiden’s Circle to keep things running smoothly, but no one witch stands higher than another.
The High Priestess position is a position of service. It’s an office that requires the most dedication to the highest good of the Coven. A High Priestess cannot and should not run a coven alone, and so Maiden’s Circle is structured with a small council of Handmaidens to help.
No one who holds these positions is perfect. We don’t expect those who come into the Coven later to be perfect, either. We just expect you to be you, whoever that is.
Do you have any hang-ups or doubts that keep you from moving forward? How do you deal with moments of self-doubt and the desire for perfection?
Let me know what you think in the comments!
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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