The Erotically Pagan Origins of Valentine’s Day
Nowadays Valentine’s Day is associated Hearts and Flowers. Friends, whether romantic or platonic, exchange cards, candy and ask “Will you be My Valentine?”. Maybe a romantic dinner between couples. Common knowledge is that it was an invention of American greeting card companies to create a holiday in order to fill the gap between Christmas and Easter. Its name is derived from an unfortunate Christian Martyr, Valentine, also known as the Patron Saint of Lovers. (more about this guy later). But did you know that Valentine’s Day actually has much deeper, darker origins? Origins which are highly charged with eroticism, Sex Magic and blood rituals?
Lupercalia was an ancient Roman fertility festival that was celebrated around the 15th of February (or the Kalends of February according to the Roman Calendar). It’s a festival that involved animal sacrifice, blood rituals, nudity, public flogging, anonymous sex with strangers, lots of wine and other inebriates. Did I leave anything out? No? Good. What was the purpose of this public display of debauchery? Well, to ward off evil spirts and to increase the fertility of the women of course!
The festival was also to celebrate the founding of Rome and to honor its founders Romulus and Remus and the She-Wolf who suckled them in her cave. And of course it’s important that a festival honoring the founding of this auspicious empire be celebrated by warding off evil spirits and ensuring the procreation of its citizens.
The event began in the Cave of the Lupercal, the mythical cave at the foot of the Palatine Hill on the Banks of the Tiber, where the mama wolf suckled her foundling twins. There, a group of young men, Rome’s best and brightest sacrificed one or more male goats, smearing their blood all over their naked bodies. The blood would then be wiped off with milk symbolizing not only male sexuality but the nurturing female energies as well. I find this to be an interesting correspondence between the red/white, Shiva/Shakti energies of Tantra.
The Lupercal, as these young men where called, came from Rome’s finest families and some notable Lupercal where Marc Antony and Octavian Ceaser. If anyone reading this saw the HBO Series “Rome”, this festival was rather graphically depicted in the first season. All this blood ritual was followed by a feast involving lots of eating and drinking but it’s what comes next that is really interesting.
The drunken revelers then skinned the sacrificed goats and cut the leather into long bloody strips that where fashioned into whips. Yep, then they proceeded to march through the streets of the Eternal City flogging female revelers who would purposely get in their way so that they could receive a taste of the whip. And did I mention that all parties where naked? I believe this would probably get a lot of likes on PornHub! The belief here was that if their naked bodies where flogged by the whips of the Lupercal, it would increase fertility while at the same time ward off evil spirits. Makes total sense to me.
But wait, there’s more!
The festival doesn’t end there, because after that the names of the celebrants would be pulled from a jar and paired with someone of the opposite sex. They would then have to engage in public sex in the Forum for the rest of the festival. Reminds me a bit of the “Swingers Key Parties” of the 70’s.
So how does this all tie in with the martyred St Valentine? Well, it appears that during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, christian marriage ceremonies were illegal and there was one individual named Valentine who defied the emperor’s order by secretly marrying christian lovers. The Emperor caught wind of this and before you could say “Isis Caliphate” had the poor guy beheaded. So once christianity spread through the Roman Empire, the festival of Lupercalia was appropriated by the new religion and it became “St. Valentine’s Day”. Now, I must say that by the time this conversion took place, the original festival of Lupercalia was only a shadow of its former self; gone was the nudity and public flogging and instead the acts were performed “symbolically”. Ie fully clothed, just a tapping with a hand and you could forget about pulling the names out of a jar. However you can still see some vestiges of these practices in modern day Mardi Gras events and in Holy Week in Spain.
So the next time you buy a Valentine’s Day Card or decorate your home with the colors of red and white. Remember the ancient origins of this Holiday and its earthy, pagan origins.
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