Working in an occult shop as Valentine’s Day approached always brought out the romantic and amateur sociologist in me. I never grew tired of hearing people’s tales of broken hearts, sweet kisses, and the courage of commitment. For a secular holiday with murky and not so romantic origins, Valentine’s Day holds such a sense of power over us, producing anxiety around relationships or the lack of them. What unites us is our desire to give and receive love. What keeps love so elusive for many, is the tendency to neglect the most important relationship we have, the one with ourselves.
Our modern Valentine’s Day is really a product of American consumerism with a few traces of antiquity. The Catholic Church recognizes a few different saints named Valentine all of whom were martyred. One Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine disobeyed Claudius and performed clandestine marriages. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Lupercalia is an ancient Roman festival, which doesn’t have direct ties to modern Valentines Day, but being a fertility festival in mid-February, along with the rise of romantic sonnets and love letters during Victorian England, a modern holiday was born.
Love magic is most appropriate to work beginning with Ostara, the Spring Equinox, all through Midsummer with an emphasis on Beltane or May Day, the high holiday of fertility, lust and love. But now as we are in the stretch between the last snowflakes and first buds of spring, there is much time to meditate on how we can better show love for ourselves in order for it to manifest once spring arrives. bell hooks, author and feminist visionary writes that “true love sheds light on those aspects of ourselves we may wish to deny or hide, enabling us to see clearly and without shame, it is not surprising that so many individuals who say they want to know love turn away when such love beckons.” What aspect of yourself is hardest to love and in your mind could never be embraced? Why is it that we shy away when others see us in our most vulnerable and naked states? When love is presented to us, why do we feel not worthy of it? And most importantly, why do we have the desire to throw it into the fire and walk out the door rather than work it out? Our shadow side is buried deep when it should, in fact, be tended to like a delicate rose garden, nurtured, watered and spoken to on a daily basis.
Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to meditate on the wounded parts of yourself that feel far removed from the thought of human touch, care and connection. Take a salted bath to cleanse and if possible use a green candle to represent the heart chakra and Venus in her earthly, grounded state. Carve the classic symbol of Venus into the candle with a pen or small carving tool. Dress it with scented oils of rose, geranium, lavender or any favorite floral scent that represents harmony. Light the candle and meditate on your beauty, strengths and what sets you apart. Write a love letter directly addressing the shadow side of you that feels incomplete and promise to make self-care and self-esteem a priority. More importantly write down three things you accept about yourself, no matter how difficult these truths may be. The more willing you are to be honest about your fears, desires and intimate goals, the easier it will be to share with future lovers. Reclaim this Valentine’s Day and treat yourself to a moment of loving self-reflection with honesty, commitment and caresses.