For the Love of Valentine

The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.     ~Rumi

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alentine’s Day is one associated with lovers, couples and many may argue….commercialism.   As with any other public opinion, it requires examination so that one may evaluate and respond in a way that honors our path and our relationships in a way that feels authentic and productive. 

There are as many types of love as there are people with the most remarked on and notable being:  Eros (sexual, passionate, romantic), Agape (universal love/heart chakra centered), Philia (friendship and goodwill), Storge (familial/parental),  Ludus (playful activity, flirting, seduction),  Philautia (self-love: both the healthy and unhealthy kind), and Pragma (practical and compatible).  Despite Valentine’s Day being associated with lovers, through the ages it has been a day to celebrate love and friendship of all kinds.

For many of us, our introduction to Valentine’s Day and love outside of the home began in grade school.  It is a holiday full of creativity and social/emotional growth, but at times could be a bit painful as well.  For me, Valentine’s Day was exciting because I loved art and V Day meant access to new art supplies of red and pink paper, hearts, sequins and delicate lace paper doilies.  As a class, we worked diligently creating homemade collages loosely representing a Valentine’s card, most often to our parents.  We would then practice our spelling and fine motor skills to write out our classmate’s names on flimsy store-bought cards sporting cheesy pictures to later take to school and hurriedly place in construction paper mailboxes taped to our desks.  If we are lucky some generous parent would include a little chocolate, a box of candy hearts or a sticker.  After the cards were passed out, everyone would excitedly open the cards.  I was psychoanalytical even as a small child and so would evaluate each person’s message by their choice of card. Did I get cards from all my friends, was there a special crush card from someone I didn’t know that liked me?   Potential hurt would be present when someone didn’t give me a card as I couldn’t understand why.    

In later grades, our minds are stretched in figuring out how to express words of caring to our friends without sounding stupid or giving someone the wrong idea, while in turn telling someone we like them…..without actually admitting it in the event we are rejected.  Our social and emotional skills are tested as we are told by our parents that we must write a card to every student on the list, even when we don’t want to.  As we get older our personalities begin to develop as do conflicts and we don’t necessarily want to include everyone in our circle of love.  We begin weighing our like and dislike of each other based on how we’ve been treated, hurts experienced (imagined and unimagined) to withholding a piece of ourselves in not sharing a card with the feelings of what it felt like when we didn’t receive a card.  At this time (hopefully) conversations begin around what is love, kindness, generosity and compassion?  How do we deal with people who don’t treat us well or return affection?  How do we deal with emotional related hurts and disappointments?  It all can become complicated very quickly and have lasting benefits or consequences depending on what tools we are taught.

Eventually ‘Will you be Mine’ hearts and paper doily cards give way to roses, chocolates and more adult overtures or expressions of love.  Depending on our past experiences we can choose this to be a time of joy and celebration or a time of jaded pessimism.  Valentine’s Day has no shortage of celebrants and is one of the most popular holidays in the United States.  Despite its popularity, many detractors denounce V Day as simply a commercial holiday designed to make people just spend more money.  To that, I would say that nobody can make you feel or do things you don’t want to.

In reality, Valentine’s Day occurs during the Season of Imbolg, a time where the weak light starts quickening the seeds of life within.  We start waking up from the hibernation and slowly stretch our delicate tendrils to the light in an effort to leave winter behind. It is interesting to note how V Day occurs during this time of the year.

There is much in the way of controversy surrounding the origination of Valentine’s Day.  One theory postulates St. Valentine was a 3rd-century Roman saint who started out as a priest, ministering to persecuted Christians.  He was imprisoned, whereby he fell in love with a young girl to whom he allegedly penned a letter and signed “From your Valentine”.  Valentine was martyred and then commemorated in death on February 14th.

Another theory stems from the actions of Emperor Claudius II, who decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives, therefore outlawing marriage for young men. Valentine felt this was unjust and married young lovers in secret. When Claudius learned of this deception, he ordered the death of Valentine.

The romanticism of either myth has not been forgotten all these years later.  It does, however, beg the question of whether or not it was initiated by the Christians in an effort to usurp the fertility festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to Faunus, the god of agriculture?  This fertility ritual occurred in the middle of February in conjunction with the beginning of birds’ mating season.  There is the soft fragrance of early lily of the valley, witch hazel, redbud and forsythia as well as the returning sounds of birds.  There is a flurry of activity in the pairing up and nest building of these birds as well.  Those in rural areas see this quickening result in new beginnings: the birth of lambs and early calves as well as chickens starting to lay eggs (another seed of life) after a long dark winter.

As pagans in tune with the cycles of the earth, we understand the need for her balance and upkeep.  Our voice and power to effect change are expressed through what we spend on consumables.   While there are a lot of consumables to be indulged in during Valentine’s Day, one does not have to sell the farm and buy up the store to show love.  Many argue that loving-kindness and the generous nurturing of a relationship needs to be shown to our partners all year long, not just on one day a year.  I do not believe any person truly engaged in a relationship would argue that statement.  A relationship is a living co-creation that requires daily mindful attention of all people involved, as a whole year of maintenance and attention cannot be crammed into one day.

I liken the group mind energy of Lupercalia/Valentine’s Day to that of Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmas, in that the magic felt during the Solstice season is big and heartfelt with energy for spell working much easier to raise because people have open hearts and are largely of the same group mind.

Valentine’s Day is all about choices.  The value is in the micro choices taking place each day in how you choose to show up in your relationship.   How one approaches Valentine’s Day is a personal choice and like anything else in life-you get out of it, what you put in.  Valentines Day can be as unique as the couple celebrating and one can choose to view V Day as another commercial holiday or one can take the opportunity of the curated Valentine’s venues to tap into the love vibes and cast a spell on each other for deeper connection and another memorable year.  At this time of year, I build an altar for the love of my family and friends.  I make special treats and pen cards to hand out as a personal expression of how I feel and want to make others feel.  Valentine’s Day does not need to be fancy, just genuine.

Love is the Law of the Land and Love is the most powerful force on earth.  Even more amazing is this year it falls on Friday-that day ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love.  Any reason to celebrate love in all of its forms is worthy of time and attention in my book!

However you choose to celebrate-may the Goddess bless your love thricely now and in the coming year!

Cheers and Blessed Be

 

 

Women’s Spirituality Trilogy

celticThroughout history, much of what has been written on paganism, witchcraft and alternative spiritual practices has led to much in the way of misunderstanding.  Witches and Heathens, as portrayed in movies sends one down the road of a bumbling idiot, maniacal evil sorcerer or vampy succubus and everything in-between.  While at times amusing and entertaining, most are based on unflattering stereotypes that hold little value in their representations.  We previously listed out some of our favorites on the Pagans and Media post, however, wanted to touch on a really great set of videos with a more authentic and respectable historical approach.

 

There are a series of videos called the Women’s Spirituality Trilogy. The three videos… The Burning Times, God Has Remembered, and Full Circle. The Burning Times provided an in-depth look at the diverse history of 15 to 17 centuries considering the worship of the goddess, manipulations of the clergy, and witchcraft of yesterday and today. Terrific numbers of witches and non-witches burned my other types of torture reminding.

God Has Remembered, examine varieties of goddess worship in different places around the world. There was footage of caves, deserts, temples, carvings and statues. The writers also touched on the resurgence of forgotten values and worship currently being practiced by both men and women.

Full Circle dealt with the manifestation of the many forms of women’s spirituality. It showed women coming together out of the shadows of men, clergy, fear and uniting in trust once again. The many points of equality and respect between the two genders were shown.

 

Watching these videos is time well spent. It was wonderful to recognize many rituals and songs that we do in our own circles. These videos had great people such as  Starhawk and Margot Adler. The dances and music were beautiful and all of the videos were represented in an informative and intelligent manner without divulging too much. The resurgence in forgotten values and practice of the old ways are alive and through this path our futures hold hope. For people newly answering the call it is a great entry resource and for those already familiar it is wonderful to see it happening in somebody fantastic ways and in living color.

Pagans and Media

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ecently, a newbie to paganism asked my husband and I for some of our favorite pagan media titles.  For pagans and people of alternative spiritualities, it used to be quite a challenge to find anything of quality that wasn’t steeping solely in stereotype.  This day and age, however, there are quite a few movies and series that are enjoyable to watch-some with historical significance, some with kernels of truth as seen in one’s peripheral vision and of course stereotypes as well and some are just purely entertaining!  There are others that may not be pagan or craft related but serve to inspire or help one think outside of the box regarding faith/spirituality/religion and subsequent moral or philosophical connotations.

Here are a list of just a few of our favorites:

Practical Magic            Ladyhawk                          The 13th Warrior
The Princess Bride     The Deceivers                   Pan’s Labyrinth
Mists of Avalon           Legend of the Witches     The Watcher in the Woods
The Witches of Eastwick-Movie and Series            The Mistress of Spices
GRIMM                         The DaVinci Code               I Married a Witch
Like Water for Chocolate                                            Book, Bell & Candle Avatar
The Cloud Atlas           Wish Upon A Spell             Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Stardust                        The Good Witch Series and Movies
The Witches                The Gift                                  Mulan
Witchcraft: Rebirth of the Old Religion                     Sorceress
Eve’s Bayou                The Spirit of Albion              My Neighbor Totoro
Thor Lord of the Rings                                                  The Pagan Queen
Hocus Pocus               The White Queen                  Harry Potter
The Seeker                 The Littlest Witch                  The Craft
Arranged                    Chocolat                                  Agora
The Celestine Prophecy                                            Anchoress
Spellbinder                  The Magicians                     The Shannara Chronicles                                           Dresden Files
The Wicker Man-Old and New version. (If you watch them back to back you will notice the differences between representations of God/Goddess as well as how female sexuality is portrayed. It struck me as quite curious).

You-tube has many documentaries & lectures as well as radio and TV interviews with pagan notables on the path of the Old Ones.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive or complete.  I did not include horror or satanic flicks.

We would love to hear about some of your favorites!

Season of Imbolg

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he season of Imbolg is upon us at the midpoint between Yule and Ostara. The spark of light, life & hope born from the womb of the Goddess at Yule emerges from the cave of darkness, bringing forth the stirrings of newly regenerated life.  Imbolc, meaning ‘in the belly’ is also known as Imbolg, Oimelc, St. Brigid’s day and the Christianized Candlemas is observed starting on sundown of February 1st through sundown of 2nd. This sabbat marks the beginning of spring, though admittedly in the PNW it doesn’t feel very spring-like. The light birthed at the Solstice, though not wholly noticeable, has increased incrementally enough that our hens are intermittently blessing us with a welcome egg or two.

Historically a festival celebration of lights is held in honor of Brigid the goddess of healing, smith work, poetry, sacred wells.   Brigid’s association with water saw her as the protectress of holy wells where divination for the coming season would take place.  Additionally, since Imbolc is a festival of fire and lights, omens may be discovered in symbols and imagery of the sabbat fire and subsequent ashes.

It can be quite cold where we live with combinations of wind, rain, fog and snow making travel treacherous.  In all honesty, this is not a favorite time of mine to be out and about, so the first snowdrops peeking through the snow as well as the new fluffy white lambs lift the doldrums of the heart and mind.   Living in the woods this time of the year means the potencandlemastial blessing of early mushrooms, however, it also means diligence in walking the fence lines to check for coyote-dug holes that need filling or downed trees removed from fences.

The sparse but growing light gently awakens our souls from inner contemplation and asked to attune ourselves to the energy of purification, the promise of warmer days and growing things.  We are not quite ready to be active, however, it is now the time to contemplate what we will sow in the coming year based on what knowledge was gained since the Season of Samhain.  Externally our gardens are planned, seeds are purchased and the remaining yard and garden chaff of the previous year is removed and the land made ready.

Altars during the Season of Imbolg are simple, reflecting the newness and fresh start of purification.  The dredges of winter are washed away in rituals of self-purification.  Homes, altars, tools and sacred spaces are “spring-cleaned” in an effort to alleviate stagnation.  Both sacred space and self are rededicated to the Divine and vows are reaffirmed to the path of the Old Ones.  Candles of white and blue grace the altar along with small vases of rosemary, hellebore, willow branches, and snowdrops along with garnet, lunar quartz, aventurine, tigers eye, citrine and an offering bowl of milk & honey.  Incense of frankincense, cinnamon, clove and last year’s lemon verbena fragrance the air and ignite excited expectation.  A Brigid’s Cross made of reed rest on a corn doll embracing a priapic wand awaiting the many kisses of the ladyfolk.  Baskets of candles await consecration and dedication to future works and sabbats.

As we cast our circle and call forth the God and Goddess, we make ready ourselves for the blessing and birthing of inspiration that is aroused after a season of surrender.  While the Maiden circumambulates sacred space with her head wreathed in lights, we turn our mind’s eye partially outward and strike a spark to the hearth fire from which every candle is lit as a beacon to the sun in the darkness.    However this must be done gently and with finesse; much the same way one strikes sparks onto dry kindling of leaves and twigs, then gently blows life-giving breath to the tinder encouraging a flame.  We must now hold this flame in the palm of our hands and give the flame what it needs to have a full life, be it tinder or breath.   Too much or not enough of one or the other kills the flame.  It often seems that spring bursts forth quickly, however, we know it is reflective of the long and careful preparations that have been made to support the burgeoning and powerful forces.  Until that time we sit quietly and give thanks for the simple beauty of the maiden goddess of light and life.  As our rite closes we hold close to our hearts all that the eyes and ears have beheld so that we may ourselves be lights in the dark.

Hymn to Brigid
An Tri numh (The sacred Three)
A chumhnadh, (To save,)
A chomhnadh, (To shield,)
A chomraig (To surround)
An tula, (the hearth)
An taighe, (The house,)
An teaghlaich, (The household,)
An oidhche, (This eve,)
An nochd, (This night,)
O! an oidhche, (Oh! this eve,)
An nochd, (This night,)
Agus gach oidhche, (And every night,)
Gach aon oidhche. (Each single night.)
Amen.

Carmina Gadelica

To the Feast!

How to do you and yours prepare for spring?