Today is the festival of Lupercalia, the ancient Roman observance of fertility and the coming spring. Not to be confused with a certain commercialized martyr’s celebration held yesterday, Lupercalia is a holiday sacred to the god Faunus, and the mythical she-wolf who reared Romulus and Remus the semi-mythical founders of Rome. It was considered an important holiday of religious observance and purification.
There are many lurid accounts of what goes on during Lupercalia, some make it seem like an excuse for copulation and frivolity. One of the best descriptions I have found on the web comes from W. J. Kowalski’s excellent Roman Calendar page.
“The rites of this day included the sacrifice of a goat or a dog at the cave-grotto known as the Lupercal. With the sacrificial blood wiped across their foreheads, the youth partaking in this ceremony would then run the circumference of the Palatine hill, perhaps about 5K, tracing the traditional route of the city boundary traced by Romulus the day he founded Rome. In the process, girls who approached the runners would be brushed or splattered with the februa, thongs of sacrificial goatskin, presumably bloody, symbolically blessing them with fertility. Red is the color of the day as it is with Valentine’s Day, the day invented to replace the Lupercalia. Fertility and sexuality were likewise replaced with the puritanical pipedream of sexless Love.”
Most (non-Pagan) people wouldn’t even know about Lupercalia if it were not for the constant stream of Valentine’s Day articles in the press. The favorite trend amongst newswriters and editorial columnists seems to be talking about the ancient pagan influences of a particular holiday. This has done more to further an awareness of ancient (and modern) paganism than any Pagan advocacy group could hope to attain. So as more people grow sick and tired of the Valentine’s Day expectations, perhaps I’ll be hearing more “blessed Lupercalias” in the future.
A very blessed and fertile Lupercalia to you all!
And to you, Jason.
Not all the publicity is good. The NPR article made it sound like all the men got drunk and bludgeoned the women, after which they basically all had a key party….
We celebrate Lupercalia, which we often call “the Feast of the Wolf” on the weekend nearest to 15 February. I will be making a leather and ribbon be-decked wand to ‘lash’ our guests and family members….forward out of the heart of winter and into the greening of the year! Blessed Lupercalia indeed!
Of course Valentine’s Day is sexless and commercial. That’s Protestant guilt and greed for you, a combination that’s held back progress.
And fear of sexuality, let’s not forget that. The conservatives don’t want any of us to experience, enjoy, and also deal responsibly, individually with mature adult sexuality.
A bill is going through the Virginia Assembly right now that if passed would okay a procedure to invade women’s bodies and pave the way to criminalize abortion: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tobias-barrington-wolff/virginia-ultrasound-bill_b_1278832.html
First of all, what’s wrong with commercial? Why, again, the hatred expressed for capitalism? Creating, maintaining, selling, and making a profit are all a good thing. I counted forty or fifty ads from Pagan businesses with V-Day products and services… essential oils, candies, readings, jewelry, on sale for the holiday. These are people who are hopefully doing well and not depending on the government for their sustenance. THAT is “progress”.
Second of all, why is taking a little special time to acknowledge your significant other(s) considered undesirable? Dave and I bought American-made cards and candy for our youngsters and put money back into the economy at a local eatery, had a lovely dinner together, then attended a Valentines for Veterans concert, sponsored by a national Vets’ organization. We didn’t have to spend a ton, and we had a blast. People who sour-grape about the “contrived” holiday, and having to express sentiment, I’ve found, are usually those who are pretty unhappy in their personal lives.
I’m so tired of hearing Pagans slam conservative this, conservative that. Posting here (and elsewhere) acting as if money is this terrible, frightening monster… it seems some Pagans are more afraid of people earning an honest living than Protestants are about sexuality. How can abortion be equated with “deal(ing) responsibly, individually with mature adult sexuality”? To be mature and adult would be to take precautions so that no unwanted children are conceived by a person too immature to properly raise them, and individuality would ensure that no one else has to pay for their irresponsibility.
Gaaah. Some people just feel they have to dump sand in the sugar bowl for every occasion.
Happy Lupercanalia , and a late Valentines Day to all my friends here. Kilm
I think that bill passed. Virginia: Not for Lovers Anymore.
Ok, next year we put away the machine guns and replace Massacre Day with Luprecalia. Now where did I put that bludgeon?
No, not anymore. And unfortunately, I’ve now learned a similar bill passed in Oklahoma as well. Disheartening. We’ve came so far…only to start falling back again.
Speaking only for myself..I am a Pagan and I have no issue with people making money or with a society being prosperus. As for Valentine’s day I don’t like it only on the basis that I feel it is silly to put aside one day to show the ones we love that we love them that should be something we express daily. Now the comment about abortion.. I do think was unwarrented and I think it is a very personal issue and I will make no further comment on it.
Happy Lupercalia! http://barbedpentacle.blogspot.com/?zx=352051cb95d665b5
Also, the whole thing about Christianity replacing “Fertility and sexuality […] with the puritanical pipedream of sexless Love” is idiotic, considering that a century before St. Valentine’s day became associated with Lupercalian conotations of love (in the 14th century), the sex/body hating Cathars and Albagensians were considered heretics by the Catholic Church. Fertility is, and always has been, considered a good and sacred thing by the majority of Christian sects.
There is no neutral ground with respect to abortion with conservatives. Most of them, certainly all of the religious right, draw no distinction between abortion and contraception. They assert that contraception in fact an abortifacient. They will always press to outlaw all of it.