In a couple of days we will celebrate Valentine’s day. Aside from the fact that we are supposed to shower our beloved with chocolates, flowers or take them out for dinner, we don’t really know an awful lot about the holiday of the saint who gave his name to the celebration of love.

Valentine’s Day received its name from a Roman priest who lived in the third century in the Rome of Emperor Claudius. The legend goes that Emperor Claudius noticed that single men performed better on the battlefield as they had nothing to lose, so he decided to abolish marriage. The Christian priest Valentin continued to wed young couples in secret, which explains why he got associated with romantic love. His courageous decision eventually got him in prison and executed subsequently. Since then, he has been known as a martyr of love and people celebrate Valentine’s day in his honour.

Before the apparition of saint Valentin, however, Romans already celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. A celebration that took place on the 15th of February, during which people would purify their homes, bodies and cities, chase away evil spirits and make room for energies of good health and fertility. Lupercalia honoured Lupa, the she-wolf who raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome and the pagan god Faunus, a rural god who brought abundance in crops and livestock as the god of fertility. Interestingly, in certain parts of Europe Saint Valentin is still invoked by beekeepers as a patron saint of fertility.

Even before the holiday of Lupercalia, there was the celebration of Februa in Italian territory. Februa was a cleansing ritual and was celebrated at the second full moon of the year.
The Celtic holiday of Imbolc celebrates fertility as well and coincides with the period of the Valentine’s Day celebration. At Imbolc, the goddess Brigid ignites the hearth fire of the earth to reanimate nature after a deep winter sleep. The sap starts to flow once again and brings fertility and life to the world. In ancient times, this would have been the period in which couples who desired to have children would clear their energy and channel their sexual energy to create and welcome new life in the best possible circumstances.

Love in our Era

The celebration of romantic love found its origin in pre-Christian fertility rites, to be transformed into a celebration of lust under the Roman empire until it was banished altogether by the church of Rome.

Nowadays Valentine’s day is a highly idealistic and romanticised concept. The “rituals” we perform are very Shakespearean. We prepare for Valentine’s Day as if we were preparing to take part in an elaborate play on the theme of love on a stage decorated with lace, velvet and painted in red. Physical love is still part of the idea, but has moved to the background, hidden backstage.

Somehow this holiday has lost its connexion to nature, has been disconnected from the earth. We fail to see the correlation between the awakening of our sexuality and the first stirrings of life in nature. Between the instinct of reproduction and the rebirth we are witnessing all around us. We’ve lost the wisdom of the cycles of life, the awareness that we need to purify before we can start creating.

The energy of the month of February is very much the energy of the Phoenix that burns the old to fertilise the earth on which it’ll build the new. We let go of the past, purify the past, to take flight with renewed energy. The energy of the month of February stimulates our first and second chakras. This means our relationship to matter, to the flesh and to others will be purified and imbalances will be shown to allow us to harmonise these energy centres and build solid, balanced relationships with other people.

Today Valentine’s Day serves as a reminder of love, in every sense of the way: love between two partners, love in friendship, self-love. Before we idealise romantic love, we should remind ourselves that it is pointless to look for love outside of ourselves if we haven’t found love inside of ourselves first, because what we’ll find on the outside can never be enough to fill the hole on the inside. True love can only emerge when we no longer need the other person, when we choose freely to share our journey with another person instead of it being a necessity to compensate for our inner frailties. When we have self-love, this love can find its echo on the outside in our behaviour and interactions with others and in the way we treat our natural environment.

Love is not sacrifice, nor compromise, love is a vehicle of expansion, shared freely without fear of losing it. Across the centuries and filtered by various traditions, love has been limited to one of its aspects, it has been subjected to rules and regulations, boxed in, just like human beings have. Just like we forgot about our own multidimensionality, we’ve forgotten that love doesn’t answer to any rules, that it is unlimited, just like we are. Tender feelings and romantic gestures are part of love, but love is so much more than that. Love is complicity, compassion, joy, respect, joyful sexuality, it is profound, fertile and expresses our wildness, just as it does our kindness. Love is a soul connection, a mutual decision to elevate each other and set each other free. Love is our true nature and our purpose.
So, love cannot possibly be limited to one day in the year. On the contrary, we need to set it free and celebrate it every day of our existence by living from the heart. By letting all of our words, decisions, actions and creations flow from the heart, our lives become a continuing celebration of love.

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