February the 14th is celebrated around the world as a day for lovers. A day when we buy our lover flowers and chocolate and celebrate our union – or a prospective one. It’s actually one of the nicest Christianized festivals to have been kept alive – all be it under a different name. Originally it was called Luperaclia day, when Pagans gathered to honor Faunus, the fertility god and Juno the Roman Goddess of fertility as the last of the snow began to melt and the first hints of spring were felt in the air.
When the birds would emerge and sing in the beginnings of spring. It was a day of mating because in nine months time a new king would be born at Yule when the Holly and the Oak kings would do battle once again for the love of the Goddess. Girls names were written on a piece of paper and put into a jar which the boys would have a lucky dip at the celebration. They would be partnered for the duration of Luperaclia and quite often these couplings would be a lasting thing.
In 469 AD, Pope Celsius declared the 14th February a holy day and did away with the any celebrations of spring, love, sexuality and procreation. Instead people went to church and pulled the name out of a box of a martyred saint. How boring ! No wonder people eventually did away with this custom. On a sub-conscious level we are driven by our primitive urge to love and reproduce. We cannot deny that we are all sexual creatures by nature and the inner world of spirit and our outer world of culture must match each other, for it is how we act out our lives.
The story of St Valentine is told about a priest called Valantinus who was imprisoned in Rome for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to wed. (Of course he was a priest – or he could not have been sainted.) Whilst he was in prison the daughter of the man who jailed him became his friend and he cured her of her blindness. Sounds to me that he was well versed in the healing arts. It is said that the night before he died she gave him a card signed “from your Valentine”, which is where the tradition of giving and receiving cards on this day is thought to have begun.
It is possible that the cards and flowers custom started in the High middle ages when courting was a much more formal affair than the freedom we have achieved today surrounding our sexuality. We have to pat ourselves on the back for setting our souls free from some of the chains of this patriarchal period as what has been pushed down must surface one way or another.
“For this was on seynt Volantyrnys day…When euery Byrd comyth there to chese his make.” – Chaucer
Translates as .. “for this was on Valentines day,
When every bird comes there to chase his mate.”
Like Christmas and Easter, Valentines Day has become a bit of a commercialized racket on many levels, but we must realize that this is 2014, and we are well into the Age of Aquarius where we would expect the old ways not to make as much sense to us as they did to our ancestors, who’s concerns for survival were of a different nature. In this era of fast technology and fast money and fast relationships and sex, it is good to pause for a minute and remember that we are all basically love at our core. And to remind us that family and loved ones are the reason we push ourselves so hard in this rat race to feed and shelter our young.
To send flowers and chocolate at Valentines, or to gather at Christmas or Easter and share food and gifts and family, is still a lovely way to take time out to connect with the ones who reside in our hearts. It gives us the opportunity to sit in our own hearts, even if it is for a short moment. Although the sense of community may be diminishing, these gatherings and old customs help us to realize our shared values and wisdom and gratitude for the simple things in life.
So here’s to Juno and Faunus! May their love live in our genetic memories and never give up on love! “Happy Mating Day” – Jyoti Eagles