February in the Wheel of the Year Part 2: Valentine’s Day, Lupercalia and Self-Love Magic - By Lucya Starza
Valentine’s Day on February 14th is, of course, massively commercialised with all the financial and social pressures that entails. Oh, and it isn’t exactly pagan as it gets its name from a Christian saint. However, many pagans point out that the Ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia happened about the same time and was a fertility festival involving getting lashed with strips of leather.
It’s actually more complicated than that. In mythology the founders of Rome were Romulus and Remus, suckled as infants by Lupa the wolf. Lupercalia, on February 15th, honoured her. A goat was sacrificed at her altar, a feast prepared, and strips of hide cut. Young men ran around the city with them, lightly whipping young women as part of a fertility custom. Another Roman holy day about the same time was the purification festival of Februa, honouring an aspect of the goddess Juno. Lupercalia and Februa got connected, but probably aren’t historically linked to Valentine’s Day. They don’t have to be. Modern pagans can honour them in mid February, or mix and match eclectically.
A folk belief is that birds choose their mates on Valentine’s Day. The earliest mention is by Chaucer in his 1382 poem ‘The Parliament of Fowls’. No one is certain he meant February 14th, as calendars have changed and there’s another Christian saint called Valentine. However, birds do start to build nests in early spring, and people since ancient times would have seen that.
In England, Valentine’s Day was abolished as a Christian festival with the Reformation, but amorous customs grew despite that, so it’s far more popular as a secular tradition than a Christian feast day. Valentine cards date back to the 18th century, although gift-giving took place in the 17th century, mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his diaries. It became hugely commercialized from the mid 20th century – like so many other annual events – and there are many good reasons to avoid those aspects. However, February is still a good time for love spells, self-love magic, and setting intentions to manifest your desires.
Heart-Shaped Vision Board for Self-Love Magic
Here’s an easy crafting project to invite joy, love and happy times into your life with a heart-shaped talisman. It uses the idea of vision boarding to help you attract things you want and focus on what makes you happy.
I made the one in the pictures using upcycled materials. To craft one yourself, cut out a heart shape from cardboard, then cut two identical shapes in coloured paper to cover the front and back. I re-used a red envelope, but you could use gift-wrap, old calendar pictures, or craft paper. Then look through old magazines for pictures of things you love and want to attract more of into your life. Old greeting cards, wrapping paper or calendars can provide further embellishments. You can also download and cut out pictures from the internet or photos you’ve taken. Draw or paint on the heart if you want to.
For a standard vision board, you just glue cut-out pictures to a piece of paper and pin it to your wall where you will see it regularly. This heart-shaped self-love talisman is designed to be a bit more permanent, so use decoupage techniques. Paint diluted PVA glue on all sides of the paper and cardboard to prime it. When that dries, use more PVA glue to stick the pieces in place. Put a loop of wool or string at the top, with the ends glued under the backing paper. After leaving it to dry again, use several coats of dilute PVA glue to varnish the heart.
After you've created your talisman, spend some time meditating on it and visualising those things entering your life. Then hang it where you will often see it or put it on your altar.
This is part of a series of posts I’m writing for the Moon Books Blog on the theme of the Wheel of the Year. They will be compiled and edited into a book: Pagan Portals – Wheel of the Year. Other books by Lucya Starza in the Pagan Portals series include Candle Magic, Guided Visualisations, Poppets and Magical Dolls, and Scrying. Lucya edited the community book Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Days.
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