Hearts and valentines, cupids and flowers, it is the month of the fever of the blood - febris - dedicated to the Goddess of erotic love - Juno Februarta. Many of the decorations used for Valentines Day are the totems of the Goddess of Love. The dove, which is her messenger and the red rose, which is her most sacred flower, are only two of the many symbols that have survived to the current times. Cupid, a watered-down version of her son-escort Eros, is also featured on many Valentine decorations. It was believed that even the Gods are not immune to the arrows that he carries and whoever he fires upon must fall in love with the next person they see. However, the modern customs of Valentines celebration, involving delivering love notes accompanied by flowers, is only a pale shadow of the original holy day.
The celebration of Valentines Day goes back to ancient Rome where men and women invoked the Divine through acts of love and pleasure. The prototype of our modern valentines were decorative notes containing the name of each participant. These were tossed lottery-style into a bowl, the person whose name you drew would be your lover for that day. This was a far cry from the notion of sensual pleasure as a dirty or sinful act.
In order to better understand the sanctity of the Lupercalia - as Valentines Day was then called - you must first understand the concepts that underscore these rituals. To many pre-Christian peoples, the Divine expressed itself most completely in the act of creation. Erotic love, two different forces coming together as one in the act of generation, is the human way of expressing the divine on the material plane. Although the rituals of Lupercalia were certainly a time of free spirited fun, it was also taken very seriously. When honoring the sacred through sexuality, the lovers invoked the spirit of God within every man - his "Genius", and the Goddess within every woman, her "Juno". This allowed the lovers to tap into the forces of the Divine. Just as the Christian church fathers revered pain, death, and martyrdom - when these things were undertaken in the name of their God - pagans held sacred acts of joy, pleasure, and creation when done in honor of their Gods and Goddesses. Thus Lupercalia was celebrated, and continues to be acknowledged today.
We can honor and reaffirm the presence of love in our lives if we take time to connect with the spirit of the season. Buy or make a gift for your loved one, preferably something that can be shared. Express your feelings openly at this time - share your thoughts. Look deep into the eyes of your lover, and if you see the fires of passion there, fan them.