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Holidays

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

India

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

India

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.