Today is commonly known as Valentine’s Day. It is the feast day of the Catholic saint named Valentinus. The stories surrounding this saint all agree that his death was decidedly unpleasant (one variation included his being beaten with clubs and beheaded before getting dumped into a shallow grave before being disinterred and reinterred elsewhere by the Christian faithful). The general reasons for this man’s death usually are cited as performing marriages for Roman soldiers who had been forbidden from marrying and his association with Christians. Precise details about this era are not as strong as one would like because there are multiple individuals known as Valentinus who died for approximately the same reasons. This is additionally confused with the very varied writings that made up medieval hagiography.
Within the Filianic/Déanic communities, February 14th (also known as Brighe 23rd according to the sacred calendar of these faiths) has become known as Amity day. This is the day where love is celebrated in its many splendid forms. Where as the secular over-culture that we are generally aware of focuses upon romantic love (of a very specific variety) on this day, the Filianic/Déanic communities have a broader perspective. Indeed, it is often found that a focus upon Platonic and familial love in these communities. It is not that romantic love is unimportant as much as Platonic and familial relationships more closely mirror the ideal relationship between worshipers and Dea.
There are many in the wider pagan community that honor this as the feast of Lupercalia. Lupercalia is an ancient fertility festival that is reckoned to have been celebrated at approximately the same time of the year. The festival is historically associated with wolves and the deity known as Faunus (who is considered a Roman cognate to the Hellenic deity Pan). The focus of this festival has historically been the celebration of fertility, the appeasement of unfriendly spirits, the increase of health and vitality in the community, and purification of the city. One would only presume that along with the focus upon purification of the city, there was perhaps a parallel focus upon purification within one’s own home.
Today, the 14th of February is treated as a day of sanctioned debauchery along certain lines. The indulgence of people in extravagant purchases to display their affection, in having sweet treats, and physical displays of affection is so heavily entrenched in the over-culture of the United States that it seems some sort of strange irony considering how many people are judgmental of others for such indulgences at other times of the year. The ideas that there is a certain standard of behavior that is required to observe this day properly creates an incredible amount of stress and anxiety for many, many people.
There are people who are extremely upset that they do not have a lover to dote upon them. There are people who are extremely anxious that their displays of affection are not extravagant. The combination of the stereotypes of what a ‘good Valentine’s day’ looks like and the general lack of reasonable allowances for people to express their affections in a manner that is most comfortable for them turns a day that could have been one for deep spiritual and emotional connection in to a day of anxiety, stress, and general misery for many people.
Thus, one is encouraged to focus more upon love as a concept at large rather than a specific manifestation, with the exception of how those manifestations enrich one’s life. Taking time on amity day to focus upon acts of self care as healthy self love is just as valid as taking one’s sweetheart out to dinner. Some would dare say that that moment of self care is even more important right now. Focus upon love as that all encompassing wonder that moves through the world.
Originally Published: 2/14/17