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3 Ways to celebrate Lupercalia (and Valentine's Day)

What is the difference between Lupricalia and Valentine’s Day?

Lupricalia was an ancient Roman Pagan Festival of love and lust, celebrated on February 15th and dating back as far as the 6th century B.C. King Amulius’s sister broke her vow of celibacy, and as retribution, he ordered her sons Romulus and Remus to be drowned in a river. A servant saved their lives by placing them in a basket and sending them down the river, where they were caught in a fig tree on the bank.

Legend says they were saved by a wolf mother, who they named Luperca. They were later adopted by a shepherd and his wife, who raised them. As men, they killed their uncle Amulius, and they celebrated Lupercalia in February, to honor the she-wolf, and please the Roman fertility god, Lupercus. 

The celebration began with animal sacrifice, and then two priests would smear the sacrificial blood on their foreheads. The blood would be wiped clean with a piece of wool dipped in milk, and the priests were required to laugh while doing so. This represented new life and procreation. The two priests would then run through the village and whip women who got close enough, with pieces of hide from the slain animals. Women usually welcomed the lashes for good luck with fertility. Couples were paired up by pulling names from a vessel or a jar. The celebration ended in feasting and love making!

Source: Catholic.org

Saint Valentine came along much later, in the 3rd century A.D. He was sentenced to death for performing marriage ceremonies with Christian couples in love, during a time when Christianity was persecuted. One story says that while in jail, Valentine tutored the blind daughter of one of the guards, and they fell in love. The night before he was executed, he wrote her a love note and signed it “from your Valentine.”

About 200 years later, the Pope, in an effort to ban the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, declared February 14th as the day to celebrate Saint Valentine. Little did he know that the spirit of both holidays would collide. The color red, which now represents hearts and love, originally represented the blood of the animal sacrifice. Valentine’s Day is more about cards and chocolates, romantic love, and sex, than about Saint Valentine himself.

Both holidays have been overly simplified and romanticized over the centuries, but here are some less extreme ways that you can celebrate Lupercalia this weekend.

Three ways to celebrate Lupercalia on February 15th

1. Have a rose water bath

Source: pixabay

The day after Valentine’s day, the price of roses drops dramatically. Grab a simple bouquet and draw yourself a bath. Add a touch of your favorite body wash, a few tablespoons of epsom salt, and a few drops of essential oil like lavender or rose of course! Pull the petals from your roses and sprinkle them on top of the bath. Light some candles (those are probably on sale too). Turn on a good self love meditation track and sink in. Here is a quick 6 minute session by Michelle Chalfant on Youtube. Maybe grab a box of chocolates at 50% off and go wild!

2. Make a self love altar

All you need is a small shelf or table in your home, in a room that is peaceful, where it won’t be disturbed. Decorate the altar with meaningful items that make you feel loved. Maybe a piece of lace as the table cloth, a pink or red candle, a white feather. You could include a picture of a wolf or a little wolf statue to honor Lupercal. Add some evergreens or fresh rosemary to represent long lasting, unconditional self love. A piece of rose quartz would help you raise the love and beauty vibes. Face your altar during meditation, or just admire it each morning for awhile.

3. Read your cards

You can also do this with a regular deck of playing cards: the old hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds. Here is a list of the suits and their meanings.

First, decide on a spread, maybe a simple three card spread. The first card you draw will represent you, in regards to your love life. The second card will represent the other person (whether you’ve met that person or maybe s/he is on the way). The third card will represent what you should be mindful of in this relationship, or what purpose the relationship is serving in your life. Or the first card is your past, the second is your future, and the third is how you can love yourself more in the present.

Shuffle the deck as you ponder your three questions and ask your spirit guides to help you. Spread the cards out on a table, it can be as messy as you want. Wave your hands over the pile of cards and feel for warmth or vibrations. Pick up three cards that speak to you. Look up their meanings online, and try to be open to the messages that are coming though. 

Need a little help? Contact me for a reading! I’m available for readings via email, phone, or in person. You can also host a Galentine’s Day party with your friends and play with the cards together. You can book me for a party; it’s really fun to get tarot readings as a group. You can book an appointment right through my Facebook page.

May your Lupercalia/Valentine’s Day weekend be full of light, love and self-confidence!

Sources:

Ancient History Encyclopedia: Romulus and Remus

Catholic.org: Saint Valentine

History.com: Lupercalia

Michelle Chalfant: 5 minute self-love meditation

Exemplar: List of playing card tarot meanings

Ganesh: remover of obstacles

Ganesh (also Ganesha or Ganapati) is a very important God in the Hindu Religion. He is the patron of intellectuals, students and authors, as well as travelers, bankers, and anyone starting a new project or adventure. You can ask Ganesh to remove obstacles on your path that are not serving your highest good.

Gansh with Shiva and Parvati

There are many different stories about Ganesh, here is a little taste of what I’ve learned. We will start with the God Shiva, and his wife, the Goddess Parvati. Shiva had a devoted follower, a bull called Nandi. When Parvati went to take a bath one day, she asked Nandi to guard the door and not to let anyone in, especially her husband Shiva, who had a habit of barging in on her.

But, when Shiva came to call, Nandi let him right in because he was so devoted to Shiva. Parvati wanted a companion that was loyal to her above Shiva, so she decided to make one. While bathing, she used tumeric to clean her skin. She used the tumeric paste from her body to mold a baby boy, and she breathed life into the boy. She had the boy stand guard for her. When Shiva returned home for the day, he was surprised to find a boy he never met before, claiming to be Parvati’s son and refusing to let him in! He gets pretty upset about this, and he cuts the boy’s head off.

Well, Parvati was pretty outraged when she found out, and she cried to Shiva, demanding he make this right. Shiva basically replaces the head with an elephant’s head and breathes life into the boy again. There’s a bit more to it than that, but you get the idea.

You’ll see Ganesh depicted with one broken tusk, and there are many stories as to how his tusk was damaged. Some say it was cut off when Shiva chopped off the elephant head. Another says he broke it off himself to use it as a writing instrument. He has a fondness for sweets; he’s often shown using his trunk to eat a hand full of modak, creamy sweet dumplings. This is why he has a bit of a belly.

Ganesh is very special. He has dominion over all classes of beings, ranging from insects, animals and humans to the subtle and celestial beings. During my tour of India, our teacher led us in a Ganesh gayatri mantra every morning on the bus. I pictured Ganesh’s big trunk moving traffic and obstacles out of our path as we drove along.

Ganesh Gayatri

Here’s a good rendition of the mantra on youtube!

It goes:

  • Om Ekdantaya Vidmahe
  • Vakratundaya Dheemahi
  • Tanno Dantih Prachodayat

It means:

  • We pray to the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth who is omnipresent. 
  • We meditate upon and pray for greater intellect to the Lord with the curved, elephant-shaped trunk. 
  • We bow before the one with the single-tusked elephant tooth to illuminate our minds with wisdom.

Traveling through India, Ganesh is everywhere you look! I picked up a small trinket of his to put on the dashboard of my car, so he can clear my way as I drive around little Rhode Island. If you want to learn more about Ganesh, I shared some sources below that you can check out. May Ganesh bring you inner peace and wisdom!

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica: Ganesha

Ancient History Encyclopedia: Ganesha

India Today: 4 Stories About Lord Ganesha you Probably Didn’t Know

Lord Ganesha: his birth story, symbolism meaning and practice

Amma: Lord Ganesha: his birth story, symbolism meaning and practice

Ganesh Gayatri Mantra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkVlpm1mKFI

The light on the meaning of inner wisdom

 

Sant Dnyaneshwar
source: hindupedia.com

Sant Dnyaneshwar was a philosopher and an influential poet who is considered the greatest Saint of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra, India. He wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita in Marati, the vernacular language of the common people. At this time during the 13th century, religious scripts were written more formally in sanskrit. Dnyaneshwar’s teachings were lyrical poems that were easy to recite and sing. The lessons were easier to remember. This is why he is often described as, “the light on the meaning of inner wisdom.”

His work, Dnyaneshwari, gave simple lessons for everyday life and did not discriminate against wealth or caste. Some say his poems are more like lullabies. He was devoted to Lord Vitthal, a Hindu deity. He wrote with an emphasis on yoga, a belief in the oneness of Vishnu and Shiva, and non-dualistic Advaita Vedanta philosophy. 

At this time in history, yoga was more about mediation than the movements we know today. Dnyaneshwar gave us one of the first written accounts of proper yoga practice. A yogi has to be disciplined and  hold the mind in a place of solitude. You must practice having a controlled mind. He writes, “make the mind one-pointed.” Let go of expectations. Give the body a clean area and a firm seat. It’s also important to have good posture; a proper mudra.

Advaita Vedanta is a philosophy or a spiritual pathway more so than a religion, based on the idea that the self is the same as the highest metaphysical reality. You can strive for spiritual liberation through knowledge in this life.

At the young age of twenty one, having completed his life’s work, he took samadhi, eternal mediation. He closed himself off from the world and meditated for hundreds of years. It is said that 400 years later, a saint as visited by Dnyashwar in a dream, saying that something was bothering him. The saint broke into his tomb to find a tree root growing through his neck. According to the story, his body was not breathing but it was still warm to the touch.

There is so much more to the story of Dnyaneshwar, and I’m afraid this is an oversimplification. If you want to learn more about Dnyashwar, his work is available in English and here is a link to a biography.

On my tour of Maharashtra, we stopped at a Temple of Dnyaneshwar on our route from Shirdi to Arangabad. A peaceful and serene place. Removing my shoes on the dusty earth, I left them behind as I climbed the steps into the cool tiled temple floor in a large room with peach walls.

I received darshan, a view of the holy image of the deity in the temple, bowing with respect. I was blessed with ashes on the third eye, the eye of wisdom, my forehead. In front of me were two young girls dressed in gorgeous sarees, and making offerings. I was grateful for the opportunity to follow their lead.

 

Through the back of the temple was a great bronzed statue of Dnyashwar reciting his teachings, and his scribe writing down his words. 

Later in the trip, we visited another Dnyaneshwar site, Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Samadhi Mandir in Alandi, a  holy place near Pune.

 

I dipped my feet in the blessed waters of the Indrayani river. This beloved river is associated with Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram who might be getting his own blog post in the future. 

I dipped my malas in the water for good luck. I noticed a woman behind me, preparing flesh flower offerings and I purchased one from her. Marigolds and herbs placed in a tin foil dish. A wad of cotton is burning in the middle.

I set an intention and pushed it into the water, but it didn’t move very far. Some young boys swimming in the river pushed it into the current for me, and I watched it drift away until I couldn’t make it out on the horizon any longer. The flame among the flowers was still burning like a light on my own inner wisdom.

Radiant Knowledge: Yoga in India

Come on a spiritual journey with me.

I just got home from an adventure in Maharashtra, India that has inspired me to commit to two very simple New Year Resolutions. 

  1. More Yoga
  2. More Writing

What better place to start than sharing some lessons and experiences from beautiful India? Come along with me. I’m not going to give you a chronological retelling of the trip. Instead I’d just like to document some pretty cool stuff in any old way that seems right. I’ve neglected my blog for far too long.

Let’s visit the Kaivalyadhama Yoga Institute, the first Yoga College in the world. They conduct scientific research; they have wellness centers and classes, including online classes.

It was founded by Swami Kuvalayananda, a scholar who was an advocate for the scientific study of Hatha yoga. He was lead by his teacher, Paramahamsa Madhavdasji, who “blessed Kuvalayananda with insights into advanced yogic discipline.” Even though Kuvalayananda was spiritual and a bit idealistic, he was also a rational person; he became dedicated to studying the science behind yoga. In his lifetime, he met the Dalai Lama and Gandhi. 

Swami Kuvalayananda
“I have brought up this institute out of nothing. If it goes to nothing, I do not mind, ​but Yoga should not be diluted.” ~Swami Kuvalayananda

The Yoga Institute is peaceful and humble, with some very special details, like the three headed cobra fountain sitting in the main square. We got to take a Hatha Yoga class inside one of the classrooms. Along the room were enclosed shelves with handwritten yoga manuscripts. I imagined I was gazing at the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I had just learned about a 15th century handwritten yoga manual written in Sanskrit. The text was a compilation of even older handwritten texts that were likely disintegrating. Our guide Hareesh explained that these texts were written on biodegradable materials and were often lost or eaten by insects. So, scholars would rewrite the texts, sometimes compiling a few into one, and sometimes making mistakes or omitting important parts.

We settled on to our mats for a relaxing yoga class. Hatha Yoga highly influenced the type of yoga that we are familiar with in the US. It is a set of asanas, or poses that are strung together into a flow with the breath. In Indian culture, yoga is much more. It integrates ethics, ayurvedic diet, pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation for the health of the spiritual and physical body.

The class starts with a mantra, which is like a prayer:

Om Saha Nau-Avatu | Saha Nau Bhunaktu |

Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai | Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Sanskrit:

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु ।

सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Literal translation:

Aum! 

May we (both) be protected; may we (both) be nourished;

May we work together with great energy, May our knowledge be radiant;

May there be no differences or disputes between us

Om, peace (inside), peace (around), peace (between)

Source

How profound, and how simple. After class we got a walking tour of the campus, which is more like an oasis of exotic plants and serene vibes. We also enjoyed a healthy, traditional Indian lunch. 

If you want to learn more about Kuvalayananda and Hatha yoga, there is alot of information on their website.

May your knowledge be radiant!

January 31 – February 6, 2019: Four of Swords

Sundown this Friday, February 1st, marks the start of Imbolc, a Sabbat knowns as Brigid’s Day that lasts through February 2nd. This is precisely the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The harsh, cold winter is starting to give way. The sun sets just a bit later every day.

This is the time to welcome the Celtic Fire Goddess Brigid with a festival to honor the maiden. Imbolc festivals always involve fire ceremonies, and lots of candles.

The maiden is key in Pagan tradition. The triple goddess symbol shows the phases of the moon and also represents phases of life: the child, the maiden and the crone. Imbolc means “ewe’s milk” and also “in the belly of the mother.” At this time of year, the seeds for Spring are sitting in the womb of mother earth, waiting to pop up through the icy ground. This is a time for rebirth, renewal and preparation for the future.

I’m new to learning about Paganism, I was raised Roman Catholic. I am always fascinated by the ways that Christianity uses Pagan traditions. In the church, February 1st is St. Brigit’s Day and February 2nd is Candlemas, when the candles are blessed for ceremonies throughout the year. The Feast of the Virgin Mary is also this time of year; Mary was a maiden, a mother. Pagan tradition involves making Brigid’s Cross out of wheat stalks, which are similar to the crosses made from palms on Palm Sunday, coming up a little bit later in the Spring for Christians.

Today, there are lots of ways you can honor Brigid. You can have a bonfire or light a candle in each room of the house. Sweeping and clearing the dust from the home is customary. Out with the old and in with the new. Cleaning of anysort is a good way to celebrate, even cleansing the body by taking a nice herbal bath.

Decorate your altar or your mantel with signs of early spring like tulips, daffodils, feathers, or anything green and fresh. Of course food is very important, as with any holiday. You can make a nice meal with seasonal items like root vegetables, seeds, hearty starches. Dairy products are also associated with Imboc (I mentioned the “ewe’s milk” earlier). Yogurt, custard, creamy soups or sauces. I personally like dairy, so I plan to make a vegan “cheesy” cauliflower potato soup (here’s the recipe) and maybe some fresh baked bread or warm cinnamon rolls.

I pulled a tarot card, looking for some advice on the week ahead, and up came the Four of Swords. Here, we have a knight resting on an altar, over a sword. When I see this card, I always think of the idiom, “just sleep on it.” Reflect, rejuvenate yourself, rest as much as possible this week. You have a lot to do, and the sword below the knight suggests there is one particular point or situation, where turning off your brain will be beneficial. The three swords above the knight, pointing down means that other things can wait. Hang up your weapons, put down your shield, and take care of yourself. The knight’s hands are in prayer, which means meditate, pray, whatever you want to call it – just clear your mind. This is great for Imbolc weekend!

As you start the work week on Monday, there is a new moon in Aquarius. New moons are a good time to manifest what you want. I just started a new job, so I’ll be performing my own manifestation ritual to focus on letting go of the old version of myself and expanding into my highest potential during this moon phase. You can make moon water for spells and rituals by placing a bowl of salt water outside or by a window where moonlight will reach the bowl. Then, you might have to defrost the water depending on where you live, but it can be used in sprays, baths, gardens, etc. Anywhere you want to spread some magic.

The new moon in Aquarius might have you feeling a little bit lonely. I think that some alone time to recharge your batteries will be needed over the weekend, but don’t carry that reclusivity with you through the week. Brainstorm with people, ask for input, collaborate on problems, reach out to people in your social circle. Open yourself to new experiences. It will be good to think outside of the box this week. Stir the pot, so to speak.

Here are some excellent articles that I read for this blog:

 

January 24 – 30, 2019: Judgement

It should be smooth sailing right about now. All of the planets have been spinning in direct motion since January 6th, which means you can’t blame anything on a retrograde until March. I pulled the Judgement card this week. When I pull cards for this blog, I simply ask for my guides to give me something to be mindful of as I write this week, then I pull a card at random. If I’ve already covered the card recently, I might pull another. And so often the cards that come up are so perfectly aligned not only with my life, and hopefully with yours, but also the energy of the planets.

The Judgement card features the Archangel Gabriel in glorious colors, blowing his trumpet. Gabriel is the angel that delivered to Mary, the message that she would bear God’s son, Jesus. In the card, Gabriel is coming to call humanity to judgement before God. The men, women and children below give themselves over to God’s will. The mountains in the background represent the fact that you cannot escape judgement, and times may be challenging ahead.

When this card comes up in a reading, it means that you are being called to take a giant step forward on the path to your higher self. You are destined for more. It’s time to man up and learn from your past, but to let the old you go. Sometimes the hardest thing about growth is saying goodbye to the old you. This card often appears at a time of a significant change or growth in life. 

Today, January 24th, Mercury enters Aquarius. This usually means that same old boring way of doing things no longer suits you. You want to mix things up, take a more scattered approach than usual. It’s also the festival of Sementivae, a grain festival that celebrates the sowing of the fields for spring planting. As the old saying goes, you will reap what you sow.

Next week carries us into Februalia, a Roman festival to honor the God Februus from January 30th – February 2nd. Februs was associated with death and purification. The original tradition was a month long period of atonement and sacrifices.

In a more modern fashion, you can recognize the season by getting rid of the things in your life, heart and mind that are no longer serving you. Consider meditating or practice removing negative thoughts from your day. You could simply declutter your home, have an early spring cleaning. Yes it’s still Winter, but it’s over fifty degrees and raining in Rhode Island, so I’m going to call it spring cleaning. I have to say, I really enjoyed Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, Tidying Up! If you need some motivation to declutter, she’s your girl.

I digress! There was a clear theme to me here from the symbolism in the Judgement tarot card, the movement of Mercury, and the mythological festivals of the season. I asked for something to be mindful of, and the answer is release. Ugh, that’s NOT easy sometimes. Time to let it go! It’s all part of your evolution.

 

Here are the articles that I consulted for this blog, check them out!

Astrology of 2019 (Cafe Astrology)

Pagan Wiccan Calendar (Thoughtco.com)

Feriae Sementivae (romeacrosseurope.com)

The Roman Februalia Festival (Thoughtco.com)

 

 

January 17 – 23, 2019: Nine of Wands

Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride this week, with a lunar eclipse in Leo on Monday. The nine of wands is about having the courage and the resilience to cross the finish line. The man in the card stands on a stage, and he has set a very clear boundary behind him. He has one last wand to set in the ground, but it looks like he has taken a few hits already. He’s trying to muster up the strength to finish the job. The number nine represents the last challenge you must face before you reach your goal. The line of wands behind him represents setting clear boundaries for your self, and for others.

The nine of wands was the perfect card for me this week because I begin a new job next week. This week is all about tying up projects and ending the chapter on my previous position. I’m just saying, I know how this guy feels!

On Sunday, the sun enters Aquarius. Aquarius is logical, but somewhat detached. This energy will help you see things as they truly are. It will help you find solutions for the greater good of others. You’ll be more apt to stay above the emotional frays of the situation, and other people might perceive that as distance or detachment.

On Monday, we have the big lunar eclipse in Leo! This could affect us for a few days, its much stronger than a typical full moon. This will bring about some unexpected events, uncertainty about the future, feeling rushed or anxious. This is going to be your final challenge before you hit your mark, just like the nine of wands. Hang in there.

This January moon is also known as the “cold moon” and the “rowan moon.” The rowan tree is associated with some amazing mythological stories, with its leaves shaped like eagle feathers and berries like drops of blood. It is considered to be the tree from which the first woman was made, according to Norse mythology.  (read more here)

In the celtic tree calendar, this moon is associated with Brighid, the celtic goddess of hearth and home. This is a good time to clear out your baggage, possibly by decluttering your home a bit. It’s also a great time of year to perform initiations. Personally, I’m partial to some serious home cooking right now!

During this eclipse, losing sight of the moon represents the clearing away of things that are no longer serving us. Pay more attention to your home and family, be in the present moment. Stock up on fresh ingredients, and make some wholesome comfot food. Prepare to endure this last test of endurance because you’re about to hit your mark! Finish this chapter on a high note!

Here are some articles that I consulted. You can read more about these topics:

Lunar Eclipse (Astrology King)

2019 Horoscopes (Cafe Astrology)

Rowan (treesforlife.org)

The Sun in Aquarius (starslikeyou.com)