Valentine’s Day’s Pagan Roots & Power-ful Love

When we look at the history of Valentine’s Day, from its pagan roots to its Christian-ized version, all the way to the current consumer era, we can see the dichotomy of spirit and matter, and how even spirit, when unanchored in the sacred-dark becomes materialised and shallow.

As many scholars have shown, the love holiday of Feb 14th is rooted in Roman pagan rituals that were celebrated in the middle of February. One known festival was dedicated to the deity Luprecus. 

Luprecus, who was half goat and therefore connected to the ancient deity Pan, was the protector of the flocks, saving innocent sheep from the teeth of wolves, as well as the one who is responsible for the virility and fertility of the herds. In the Roman festival, two goats and one shepherd dog were sacrificed, and the priests then ran naked in the streets, covered by the bloody skins of the sacrificed animals, wiping the crowds with the skins and marking them with blood. Barren women came forth to get the blessing of fertility by the priests’ touch. A lottery was made during this festival where young women would put their names in a box and young men would draw them randomly. Those men and women were to spend the rest of the festival time together. This was a matchmaking Roman ritual under the blessing of a goat god.

Christianity didn’t like this. In the year 500, Pope Gelasius forbade the ancient rituals. From now on men would draw a card from the lottery box with the name of a saint. They were expected to spend the following year learning about this saint and walking in their footsteps. 

He also changed the name and the nature of the day. From now on the day was named after saint Valentinus, who was executed because he dared to marry young couples while the emperor Claudius wanted the young men to fight in his armies and not have wives, children and domestic affairs. According to the legend, Valentinus fell in love with the daughter of the prison officer and on Feb 14th, before his execution signed his last letter to her with “your’s, Valentinus”.

The church saw the pagan ritual as a ritual of animal lust and replaced it with the celebration of modest and romantic love. The dark pagan ritual was replaced with saintly light love letters and sweet treats. 

Today, as we know it, Valentine’s Day is another reason for commercialism to celebrate. Commercialism and consumerism took over humanity and made even the holiday of love into a day people feel they must consume stuff to prove their love.

For love to be Sacred it needs no pink heart-shaped chocolates but a deep connection to the sacred darkness of the mystery of the universe.

Love is not fluffy — it is powerful. It is what makes life worth living and is the hidden power of the cosmos. 

How to live in Sacred Love day by day, with all the challenges that life brings us in a container of love relationships? That is a question that sacred love practitioners ask themselves constantly. 

Dawn Cherie and I gathered the experience and our learnings from our 18 years of (open and deeply committed) relationships and are offering it into an online course that (honestly) coincidently was launched this week — days before Valentine’s Day. 

As a love gift to all those who read our love letters, we’re offering 25% off Sacred Relating: Open or Not online course (sale ends 18 Feb).

May this be a gift for sacred, light and dark love!

Use the code VD25 to claim your discount now.

Access the course here. 

And watch the course intro for free.

This special offer is valid for you until Feb 18th only. 

Happy Valentine’s Day x

Ohad Pele