Hail, Pan! Hail, Aphrodite! Lupercalia is here.

Valentine’s Day, Schmalentine’s Day! Forget the hearts, roses and chocolate. Let’s pay homage to the sexy goddess and the randy god instead! (There’s one right there, Lucille Ball all decked out in fluffy pink fit for a Ziegfeld fantasy.)

My coven in Boston has an Imbolc ritual (Candlemas,”The Feast of Februa”) that does not mention Brigid/Brid/Bride at all…no sheep, either (Imbolc means “in the belly,” referring to sheep birthing lambs at this time, and Oimelc means “ewe’s milk”). in fact, it is more about Pan than anything else. The Pan who waits beneath the snow to awaken the earth in spring. And there is some symbolic scourging and talk of blood, etc. So obviously there is some connection to Lupercalia there.

I wrote a blog post several years back discussing both Imbolc and Lupercalia (as well as Groundhog Day), and this quote still resonates with me:

“For those who refer to the holiday as Imbolc or Oimelc (literally “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk” depending on your source), it makes perfect sense to forge (no pun intended) a connection to the female goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft. But I like the idea of a focus on a male god figure, especially one associated with sexuality and the forest.

The former is more of an indoor archetype, the latter outdoors, if that makes sense. The threshold, the door allowing us to shut the cold out or brave the biting winds, is a liminal place. This feeling of being on the brink is a powerful catalyst for many of us, urging engagement with new projects, or a return to old ones that haven’t been fleshed out yet. Mercury’s retrograde periods in winter allow a perfect opportunity to return to unfinished work. We dig in, hibernate, reflect, craft, repair. Brigid approves, this stoking of fires as intellectual as it is visceral. But so does Pan, his jollity a balm on grey days, wafting Arcadian breezes into our winter dreams.”

So if you’re wondering about how to celebrate this week, give some thought to those gods who rule our sensual natures. Maybe some wine and dancing (solo if you don’t have a date). I am sure they like chocolate just fine, too.


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About Peg Aloi

I'm a freelance writer, film critic, media studies scholar and teacher, baker, gardener, singer and animal lover. Oh, and witch.