Monday, February 8, 2010

Origins of Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day! What a nice day to celebrate that special day with your loved one. But was Valentine’s Day always celebrated as Valentine’s Day? Well no, it wasn’t. In ancient times, the pagans celebrated the time period around February 14th as Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a Roman festival dedicated to the pagan god, Lupercus who was the god of the shepherds. Lupercus was identified with the Roman god, Fauna and the Greek god, Pan. For those of you who are not aware, Pan was a nature god and ruled over the woods and fields. He was pictured as half man, half goat with horns and hoofs. He often played a flute and was known for his sexual prowess.

Now, Lupercalia was originally celebrated as a fertility ritual and it was very interesting. It began with the sacrifice of two goats. After the sacrificial feast, two young appointed Luperci or priests would cut thongs from the skins of the goats, called Februa. They would then dress themselves up with the skins of the goats, imitating the god, Lupercus or Pan. They would run around the city with the thongs in their hands. The women in the village would line up to receive a strike from the thongs to ensure fertility. It was a joyous ritual to promote health and fertility to the village.

Lupercalia was later abolished by the Church and replaced by St. Valentine’s Day. Now according to the Legenda Aurea, St. Valentine was a Christian priest who was being interrogated by the Roman Emperor, Claudius II. Claudius tried to convert St. Valentine to roman paganism and when he would not, he ordered him to be executed. While St. Valentine was in jail, he made friends with the jailer’s daughter who was blind. Before his execution he was known to have performed a miracle by healing her. It was purported that just before he died, St. Valentine wrote a note to the girl, calling her, his beloved and signing the note, from your valentine.

The actual practice of exchanging Valentine’s Day cards later became popular in England during the 1800’s.

I find it fascinating that historically this period has been celebrated as a time of love and fertility, regardless of the ruling authority. It is a time to reach out and tell your friends and beloved that you love them. It is a time to remember to practice Jesus’ commandment to Love thy neighbor and to practice Buddha’s doctrine of compassion for all human beings regardless of nationality, religion, race, gender or creed. We should all strive to live more harmoniously together as one world and one people under God.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ritual to the Heavens

The Petition to the Heavens is celebrated this week on February 4th. For astrologers, it is a tribute to the Air Principle of the Universe which occurs at fifteen degrees of Aquarius. Why is this time period important? Because by celebrating at certain times throughout the year, we can attune ourselves into the natural harmony of the universe. Most people are already familiar with the ceblerations at the ninty degree points of the solar cycle, known as the vernal/autumnal equinox, and the winter/summer solstice. But not many people are familiar with the mid point celebrations. These occur mid way between the solstices and equinoxes. We recently celebrated the winter solstice back in December 21st. Now we have reached the mid point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. Here we pay tribute to the Fixed Element of Air, known as the life-brearing Aquarius. We pray to the Spirit of the Heavens to bring us knowledge and wisdom to help us achieve our goals and dreams.

The main ritual to the Spirit of the Heavens is to make a scroll out of paper. On the scroll, write down your prayer to the Spirit of Air, requesting knowledge and wisdom to help guide you in accomplishing your goals. Then roll up the scroll and tie it to a ballon or a kite. Go to your favorite site and fly your kite or release your ballon to the heavens with your prayer. The Tibetan monks do a very similar ritual with their "prayer flaggs." If you visit Tibet, you will see all these brightly colored flaggs flying in the wind. TheTibetan prayer flaggs utilize the same principle by casting their prayers to the Spirit of Air. You can also make your own prayer flagg for this ritual, as it will have the same effect as using a kite or a ballon. Do whatever suits your fancy.

I really enjoy this ritual every year. I have a lot of fun flying my kite to the air or casting my ballon with my sacred scroll to the Spirit of the Heavens. I feel more attune to the Spirit of the Air and appreciate how our every moment on this planet is dependant on the air we breathe.