There are 3 candles that illumine every darkness:
truth, nature and knowledge.
~ ancient Irish triad
What is light? Many of us think simple concepts such as "light" so mundane that no one need really to look it up in a dictionary. To suggest anyone do just that may be the most insulting request a person could imagine, but, I did it. (Me, and my damnable literalities, again!)
Light [n]: 1.a) Something that makes vision possible; b) the sensation aroused by simulation of visual receptors: brightness. 2. Daylight; dawn. 3. A source of light as: a) celestial body, b). candle. 4. archaic - sight. 5.a) Spiritual illumination b) inner light c) enlightenment d) truth. 6. A particular aspect or appearance presented to view. 7. A particular illumination. 8. Something that enlightens or informs 10. (pl) A set of principles, standards, or opinions. [verb] to ignite; animate - to start something to burn. [adj] trivial, scant, gentle, faint, frivolous, changeable, cheerful. [Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 8th edition]
Rev. Kinrei Bassis stated in the May-June 1985 Journal of Shasta Abbey "There is a widespread spiritual delusion which can be described as 'Love and Light.' It can be found throughout history and has been, at times, a problem for most religions."
The problem, my dears, is context (the parts of a verbal interchange of ideas that surround a word or passage and can [not does] throw light on its meaning). Many people can use facts to strengthen an argument. Notwithstanding, some arguments have strong possibilities, but, possibilities are not concrete fact. Case in point, "Ancient Aliens", the most widely known program whose arguments rely heavily on context and operative words (e.g. can, may, possible, perhaps) to sway general opinion, and force a modernist standard of consideration for archaeological relics (ref "Light" definition #10).
In the case of an unmonitored religion such as Wicca (or other pagan faiths), spiritual truths are subjective and purely contextual, even though they can be shared (as in Shared Personal Gnosis or SPG). Do these shared spiritual points of view constitute an exact, or concrete truth? No. They simply provide a personal truth - a personal light (ref "Light" definition #5, 6 and 7). Though historical fact may be factored into certain religious practices, they do not carry the burden of personal belief inasmuch as they justify it (ref "Light" definition #1a and possibly as a verb).
Rev. Bassis continued to state: "The mistake of 'Love and Light' can vary from being simply an error in emphasis within the teaching, to propounding and practicing extreme forms of delusion. Every teacher uses different expressions, and one cannot judge their validity on a superficial glance at the terms."
As defined in Webster's, Love [n]: 1.a)1. a strong affection for another rising out of kinship or personal ties. 1.a)2. attraction based on sexual desire. 1.a)3. affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests. 2. warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. 3. The object of attachment, devotion, or admiration. 4. The unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another. 5. A god or personification of love. 6. an amorous episode: love affair. 7. the sexual embrace. [verb] to hold dear: cherish; to feel a over's passion, devotion or tenderness for: caress; fondle amorously, to copulate with; to thrive in.
If you accept the principle that all of humanity are one, big, interrelated family - then definition #1.a)1. works for the "Love and Light" line. However, the remaining definitions are farthest from anything any of us feels for a person, as soon as they are met. Merrily met, or not, the deep-rooted affection OR admiration OR unselfish loyalty that goes along with "love" simply is not there.
There are 3 sparks that kindle love:
the face, the demeanor, and the way of speaking.
~ ancient Irish triad
A god or personification of love (#5) can be reasonably inserted into the context of "Love" where it is concerned, but, not every individual will immediately comprehend "love" as "god(dess)" without being reminded, first. Perhaps, the "love" is more of a command - a verb, to be more precise.
However, love is just an emotion. Emotions ebb and flow like the sea - always moving, always changing; mutable. Why is this emotion present as a standard, a basis, if it is always in flux?
"Hold Dear" and "Illuminate"
According to Raymond Buckland, he was given an outline describing the sort of high ideals of love pagan leaders should strive for. It can be found on page 54, and has been simply called "The love of the priest and priestess". In these lines, there is stress on the thought that no matter what despicable things you do to your HP/S, their love for you is unchanged; this is supposed to be that "perfect love" taught about in Wicca and implied in half of the words to "love and light".
It is extremely difficult to accept the role as leader when you are incapable of understanding what is expected of you in this role. You are expected to be unwavering and disciplined in your faith and you are expected to uphold the highest standard of "love" as defined in the oldest recorded definition of it:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (...Like it, or not, this is the context behind "perfect love" and the love of the priest and priestess.)
Yet, just because love is given out, doesn't mean it is necessarily reciprocated. If you adhere to "love and light", but are incapable of verbal or physical displays of love or enlightenment, are you "breaking rede"? Not at all. In fact, you're probably upholding it by NOT giving love; by NOT sharing your light with others. Because in doing these things, you are introducing an aspect of willful manipulation into your first meeting, and, manipulating others and their wills is against the Rede. You want to instigate an acquaintance, instead, based off of a mutual respect and character tolerance, first. The "love and light" will come much later, if at all. In consideration for all of this, and in my honest opinion, "Love and Light" should only be dished out by HP/S to their adherents.
However, "Love and Light" is a general expression that define the practitioners of Wicca (and, other paganisms) as individuals - each person having their own light (truth) and love (thing they hold dear to themselves). So, the next time someone greets or leaves you by saying "Love and Light", treat it as if they are really asking you two important questions:
Are you capable of nurturing a mutual affection
based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests?
AND, are you spiritually illuminated?
[Ikinde Skreja Ominnsaer; May 2013 - Conversations from the Porch]