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
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