Symbols and Customs of Lupercalia

Joulis ^^ !Symbols and Customs of Lupercalia

Blood played an important role in the observation of the Lupercalia. The blood of the animals sacrificed at the festival was smeared across the foreheads of two young priests with a knife-perhaps to symbolize death without actually killing anyone. Some accounts of the early observation of this festival say that the youths had to laugh after the blood had been wiped off, which may have been another symbolic act designed to prove that they had been reborn or revived.

Red, the color of blood, is still closely identified with the celebration of VALENTINE’S DAY on February 14. There is reason to believe that what started out as a pagan fertility ritual was eventually transformed into a Christian feast in honor of St. Valentine. Then the Christian festival gradually turned into a secular celebration of young lovers. If this is the case, then the red that dominates so many modern Valentine cards may have derived from the sacrificial blood of the Lupercalia.

The skins of the goats sacrificed at the Lupercalia were cut into long, thin strips, from which whips were made. The loinskin-clad youths ran through the streets, whipping everyone they met. Women in particular were eager to receive these lashes, as they believed that the whipping would cure infertility and ease the pains of childbirth.

The goatskin thongs used as whips were called februa. Both this name and the name of the month in which the festival was observed, February, were derived from the word februum, which was an ancient instrument of purification. Whipping certain parts of the body with an instrument believed to possess magical powers was considered an effective way of driving off the evil spirits that interfered with human fertilization. The goatskin thongs were believed to possess such powers.

Running around the settlement on the Palatine Hill in Rome wearing the skins and carrying the februa appears to have been an attempt to trace a magic circle around the city to shut out evil influences. This would make the Lupercalia a precursor of the ceremony that came to be known as “beating the bounds.”

In pre-Christian times, the goat was a symbol of virility and unbridled lust. Christians saw the goat as an “impure, stinking” creature in search of gratification. In portrayals of the Last Judgment, the goat is the creature who is eternally condemned to the fires of Hell, and it’s no coincidence that the devil has many goatlike characteristics. In the Middle Ages, witches were often shown riding through the air on goats, and the devil appears as a male goat whose rump the witches kiss.

If the Lupercalia was primarily a fertility ritual, it makes sense that the women were whipped with thongs made from the skins of an animal identified with lust and virility. But why was a dog sacrificed as well? It is important to remember here that the Lupercalia was both a fertility rite and a purification rite, held to protect the fields and herds from evil. Perhaps dogs were involved in the sacrifice because they are the traditional guardians of the sheepfold.

Goats today are considered a symbol of sexual drive, and February is the month during which they mate.

After the Luperci were smeared with the blood of the sacrifice, the blood was wiped from their foreheads with wool dipped in milk. Just as the blood symbolized death, the milky wool was symbolic of new life, because milk represents the source of life. Some scholars have theorized that the milk was a symbol of sperm and the red symbolized menstrual blood. According to an ancient theory of procreation, new life came from the union of white sperm with red menses.

Today, red and white are the colors associated with VALENTINE’S DAY.

The Latin word for wolf is lupus, from which both the Lupercal (cave) and the Lupercalia derived their names. While the festival may originally have been held in honor of the she-wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus, wolves also represented a threat to the herds on which the early Romans depended for food. The wolf is therefore a symbol not only for the wild, unrestrained forces of nature but also for the benevolent guardian of helpless creatures like Romulus and Remus.

Why were the priests called Luperci? The word Lupercus might have come from a phrase meaning “to purify by means of a goat”; or it might have come from a combination of lupus and arcere, meaning “he who wards off wolves.” Whether the Luperci were protectors from wolves or wolf-priests who took the form of wolves as a means of bringing them under control is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered. Some scholars suggest that the dead revealed themselves in the form of wolves, against whom the community had to be defended.

Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meanings Behind Them. New York: Meridian Books, 1994. Fowler, W. Warde. The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic. New York: Macmillan Co., 1925. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. James, E.O. Seasonal Feasts and Festivals. 1961. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1993. Lemprière, John. Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary. Revised ed. London: Bracken, 1994. Santino, Jack. All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. Scullard, H.H. Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981.

Article published on The Free Dictionary

Origins of Lupercalia

WOLVESOrigins of Lupercalia

Type of Holiday: Ancient

Date of Observation: February 15

Where Celebrated: Rome

Symbols and Customs: Blood, Februa, Goat, Milk, Wolf

Colors: Red and white, in the form of BLOOD and MILK , both played a part in the earliest observance of the Lupercalia. Nowadays these are the colors associated with Valentine’s Day, to which this ancient festival has been linked.

Related Holidays: Valentine’s Day

The Lupercalia was a festival in the ancient Roman religion, which scholars trace back to the sixth century B . C . E . Roman religion dominated Rome and influenced territories in its empire until Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in the third century C . E . Ancient Roman religion was heavily influenced by the older Greek religion. Roman festivals therefore had much in common with those of the ancient Greeks. Not only were their gods and goddesses mostly the same as those in the Greek pantheon (though the Romans renamed them), but their religious festivals were observed with similar activities: ritual sacrifice, theatrical performances, games, and feasts.

The Lupercalia festival was held in honor of the WOLF who mothered Romulus and Remus, the legendary twin founders of Rome. During the original Roman celebration, members from two colleges of priests gathered at a cave on the Palatine Hill called the Lupercal-supposedly the cave where Romulus and Remus had been suckled by a she-wolf-and sacrificed a GOAT and a dog. The animals’ BLOOD was smeared on the foreheads of two young priests and then wiped away with wool dipped in MILK . The two young men stripped down to a goatskin loincloth and ran around the Palatine, striking everyone who approached them, especially the women, with thongs of goat skin called FEBRUA . It is believed that this was both a fertility ritual and a purification rite. It may also have been a very early example of “beating the bound, or reestablishing the borders of the early Palatine settlement.

There is some confusion over which god the Luperci or priests served; some say it was Faunus, a rural deity, and some say it was Pan, the god of shepherds who protected sheep from the danger of wolves. All that is certain is that by Caesar’s time, the annual ceremony had become a spectacular public sight, with young men running half-naked through the streets and provoking much good-natured hysteria among the women. February 15 was also the day when Mark Antony offered Julius Caesar the crown. Thanks to this historic event, and Shakespeare’s account of it in his play Julius Caesar, the Lupercalia is one of the best known of all Roman festivals.

It is interesting that such a rustic festival continued to be celebrated in Rome for centuries after it had been Christianized. Its survival can be partially credited to Augustus, who rebuilt the Lupercal in the first century B . C . E ., thus giving the celebration a boost. It continued to be observed until 494 C . E ., when Pope Gelasius I changed the day to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. There is some reason to believe that the Lupercalia was a forerunner of the modern VALENTINE’S DAY: Part of the ceremony involved putting girls’ names in a box and letting boys draw them out, thus pairing them off until the next Lupercalia.

The Free Dictionary

To Soothe A Sad Heart

To Soothe A Sad Heart

Items You Will Need:

White, blue, or pink candle

Lavender essential oil



Light the candle. If using oil, dab a bit over your heart chakra. If using incense, light it and waft some of the smoke toward your heart. Put both hands over your heart, then say the following:

“Sad am I and full of woe
My heart is sore and tattered
The world of late has not been kind
And it’s left me feeling battered.
I ask the Gods to soothe my heart
And help my spirit soar
Ease my pain and heal my wounds
So I might smile once more.
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Your Ancient Symbol Card for February 18th is Love

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today


Love indicates that love is either present in our life or a distinct possibility. Be open to all possibilities, remembering that true love is given freely, without condition, and does not have to be earned. This is the kind of love we want to welcome into our life and to give to others. Be open to new ideas, and beware of judging against someone in an unloving manner. When Love appears, return to the place where you can love yourself and then seek out the same love from others.

As a daily card, Love suggests that for those who are currently in a relationship the opportunity to deepen the bond is present. For those who are single, Love implies that the prospect for them to begin a romantic relationship is very strong at this time.

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Daily OM for February 14th – A Gift of the Heart

A Gift of the Heart
Letting People Know You Love Them

by Madisyn Taylor

If you love someone, let them know.

It’s easy to take our feelings for granted and to assume that the people we care about know how we feel about them. But while those we love are often quite cognizant of our feelings, saying “I love you is a gift we should give to our loved ones whenever we can. Letting people know you love them is an important part of nurturing any kind of loving relationship. Few people tire of being told they are loved, and saying “I love you can make a world of difference in someone’s life, take a relationship to a new level, or reaffirm and strengthen a steady bond. Everyone needs to hear the words “I love you. Three simple words I – Love – You. When you declare your love for someone you admit to them that you care for them in the most significant way.

It can be difficult to express your love using words, particularly if you grew up around people that never expressed their affection verbally. But you should never be afraid to say “I love you or worry that doing so will thrust you into a position of excessive vulnerability. It is important to share your feelings with those that matter to you. Part of the fulfillment that comes with loving someone is telling them that you love them. Besides, love exists to be expressed, not withheld.

If you love someone, let them know. Don’t be afraid of the strength of your emotions or worry that your loved one won’t feel the same way. Besides, the words “I love you are often best said to another without expectation of a return investment. As each one of us is filled with an abundance of love, there is never any worry that you’ll run out of love if your expression of love isn’t said back to you. Saying “I love you is a gift of the heart sent directly via words to the heart of a recipient. Even though it may not always look that way, love from the heart is an offering that is always unconditional and given without strings attached. That is the true essence of the gift of “I love you.”

The Daily OM

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About the Origins and History of Valentine’s Day

About the Origins and History of Valentine’s Day

By ,

The origins of Valentine’s Day may be a bit disappointing. Valentine’s Day is probably named for a saint. Its transformation into a love-fest seems to have been catalyzed by a single Englishman in the 14th century — well beyond the termination date for bawdy Roman fertility festivals, like the Lupercalia.

Chaucer first linked the February holiday of Valentine’s Day, a martyred saint’s day, with romance, and even then, not really romance, but birds mating. Then, after some centuries of an increasingly popular association between Valentine’s Day and romance came the development of cheap-to-mail paper Valentine’s Day cards and the birth of an American holiday in the mid-19th century.

It may not be fair to say that Valentine’s Day has its origin in antiquity, but there were romantic spring holidays (Gamelion and Lupercalia) and a St. Valentine or 2.

Valentine’s Day Saint #1:

There may have been a real Valentine, a 3d-century priest who defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban against wartime marriages. According to legend, Valentine performed secret marriages until he was discovered, put to death, and buried on the Flaminian Way. [See Oruch for why this doesn’t work historically.]

Valentine’s Day Saint #2:

There’s another legend in which a Valentine, persecuted for helping Christians, restored the eyesight of his jailer’s blind daughter, and then maintained a secret correspondence with her to which he signed his name “your Valentine.”

Another Derivation of Valentine:

Even more speculative is the notion that Valentine’s name was originally “Galantine,” signifying “gallant,” a word with more obvious associations with courtship. The shift in consonant to “v” is explained as the way medieval French peasants pronounced the letter “g.”

Valentine was a popular name among the Romans, with emperors named Valens and Valentinian.

Christianization of Lupercalia:

Another theory is that Pope Gelasius I replaced the pagan festival of Lupercalia with the Christian Feast of the Purification, which was celebrated on February 14, 40 days after Epiphany. This is based on Bede who wrote about pagan customs in February, and not specifically Lupercalia. Oruch says it wasn’t until the 16th century that the pagan ceremony of Lupercalia was said to be behind Candlemas (February 2).

February’s Special Holidays:

Imbolc, Oimelc, Brigit’s Day, The Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, Ground Hog’s Day, and Candlemas are all holidays that occur in the first half of February. Some believe the Christian holidays are simply renamed pagan ones.

References for Origins of Valentine’s Day:

  • “The Fashioning of a Modern Holiday: St. Valentine’s Day, 1840-1870,” by Leigh Eric Schmidt; Winterthur Portfolio Vol. 28, No. 4 (Winter, 1993), pp. 209-245.
  • “St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February,” by Jack B. Oruch Speculum, Vol. 56, No. 3. (Jul., 1981), pp. 534-565.

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SInce It’s Valentine’s – Test Your Kissing Knowledge Quiz!

Test Your Kissing Knowledge!

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, here is some kissing trivia,  compliments of Marc Liechtung, DMD, principal in New York-based Manhattan Dental Arts, a practice that specializes in  cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Test your kissing knowledge, and start smooching your loved one!

The Questions:

1. True or False?  Kissing can cause cavities.

2. True or False?  You burn 5 calories in a one-minute kiss.

3. True or False?  The average woman will kiss 25 guys before  she’s married.

4. The average person will spend, overall, approximately ____ kissing in  their lifetime:

A)   2 days

B)   2 weeks

C)   2 months

5. 50% of all people have their first kiss before the age of…

A)    14

B)    16

C)     18

6. True or False? Only 60% of people in the world engage in kisses on the  lips.

7. True or False?  The record for kissing the most people in the  shortest time is held by Alfred Wolfram, who kissed 800 people in 8  hours.

8. What was the first film to show a couple kissing?

A)   Casablanca (1942)

B)   Romeo and Juliette (1968)

C)   The Kiss (1896)

9. True or False?  In all countries, anyone over the age of 14 can kiss,  with consent.

10. According to legend, any person who kisses the Blarney Stone in Ireland  will be endowed with the gift of:

A)   great kissing

B)   soft lips

C)   gab


The Answers:

1. True or False?  Kissing can cause cavities.

True. If you kiss someone who may have bad bacteria in  his/her mouth, their saliva could pass the bacteria on to you, thereby causing  cavities. On the other hand, according to Dr. Liechtung, others believe that  kissing may actually  prevent cavities since saliva is the body’s natural way of cleaning the  mouth.

2. True or False?  You burn 5 calories in a one-minute kiss.

False. The average one-minute kiss burns 26 calories.  Kiss those calories goodbye!

3. True or False?  The average woman will kiss 25 guys before  she’s married.


False. Start your engines!  The average woman will  kiss 79 guys before she’s married.

4. The average person will spend approximately this much time kissing in  their lifetime:

A)   2 days

B)   2 weeks

C)   2 months


B) The average person will spend an estimated two entire  weeks of their life kissing.   That’s 20,160 minutes kissing in a lifetime.

5.   50% of all people have their first kiss before the age of…

A)    14

B)    16

C)     18


A) 14

6.  True or False? Only 60% of people in the world engage in kisses on the  lips.

False. Ninety percent of people in the world engage in kisses on  the lips. People in other cultures, such as Eskimos, rub noses.

7. True or False?  The record for kissing is held by Alfred  Wolfram, who kissed 800 people in 8 hours.

False. In September 1990 Alfred Wolfram kissed  8,001 people in 8 hours – over 16 people a minute – at the Minnesota Renaissance  Festival.

8. What was the first film to show a couple kissing?

A)   Casablanca (1942)

B)   Romeo and Juliette (1968)

C)   The Kiss (1896)


C) John C. Rice kissed May Irwin in 1896 and became the first  couple to be recorded kissing in the film The Kiss.

9. True or False?  In all countries, anyone over the age of 14 can kiss,  with consent.


False. In December 2007, South Africa Banned Kissing involving anyone under the age  of 16, regardless of consent.

10. Any person who kisses the Blarney Stone will be endowed with the gift  of:

A)   great kissing

B)   soft lips

C)   gab (great  speaking skills and flattery)


C) According to legend, any person who kisses the Blarney  Stone in the Blarney Castle in Cork, Ireland, will be endowed with the gift of  gab.


To keep your mouth kissable, Dr. Liechtung suggests daily brushing and an  annual visit to your dentist for a check-up.  For additional information  please go to


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Daily Feng Shui News for Feb. 14th – ‘Valentine’s Day’

On Valentine’s Day you can give yourself roses in order to attract a true and lasting love. Take two pink, long-stemmed roses and remove the thorns. Place them in a white vase and position this on your bedside table. After three days, replace the roses with two new pink roses. After another three days, replace the roses again for a total of six roses in nine days. Feng Shui says that this powerful cure will attract the perfect partner into your life. If you already have one of those, then putting two pink roses in a vase in your ‘Romance/Relationship’ (far back right-hand corner) will enhance your existing relationship. Happy Valentine’s Day.

By Ellen Whitehurst for

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Your Daily Horoscopes for Friday, February 14th

Romance takes center stage today, but not just because it’s Valentine’s Day. The dramatic Leo Full Moon at 6:53 pm EST focuses our attention on issues of the heart. But the conceptual Aquarius Sun shifts the spotlight from personal love to a more social context. A lunar square to stern Saturn can harden our feelings and make us question relationships in general. Thankfully, the Sun’s trine to superhero Mars could save the day with a happy ending.

Aries Horoscope

(Mar 21 – Apr 19)

You have high hopes and are willing to take a risk to fulfill your heart’s wishes today. You might not want to take no for an answer because the exuberant Leo Full Moon in your 5th House of Romance encourages you to expect too much from love. Tempering your dreams with a bit of realism may be enough to prevent disillusionment in relationships. Persistence may work in your favor now as long as you remember to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

Taurus Horoscope

(Apr 20 – May 20)

Although jumping on a plane might not be possible now, you are still tempted to escape by going somewhere far away in your mind. But this is a time to be practical, not dreamy when it comes to what really matters. The Leo Full Moon in your 4th House of Roots is a reflector that shines a bright light on family issues. Fantasies only distract you from the real love that could be found at home. Real emotional comfort is closer than you think.

Gemini Horoscope

(May 21 – Jun 20)

You have a few tricks up your sleeve today when it comes to expressing your attraction to someone special. The playful Leo Full Moon highlights your 3rd House of Communication, inspiring you to take a chance when it comes to love. However, you could overdo it by getting carried away with your feelings. Being confident is one thing, but too much bravado on your part might spell an early end to your evening. Remember, a healthy interaction is a two-way street so be willing to receive as well as you give.

Cancer Horoscope

(Jun 21 – Jul 22)

There could be an upcoming change in your income status or, perhaps, a shift in a business partnership. The bright Leo Full Moon illuminates your 2nd House of Money, so you might be more concerned with the bottom line than you are with romance now. Nevertheless, look at everything in a broader context. Practice compassion for others who may be experiencing uncertain times, too. A quick reality check today will give you a more balanced perspective; money can’t buy you love.

Leo Horoscope

(Jul 23 – Aug 22)

You may need to show a bit of caution in the romance department today, even if you know exactly what you want. The melodramatic Leo Full Moon floods your 1st House of Personality, possibly stressing your relationships and temporarily turning your life inside out. You could become overly defensive if someone stands in your way, so remind yourself that it’s not necessary to express everything you feel. Waiting until tomorrow before saying what’s on your mind will probably be better off for everyone involved.

Virgo Horoscope

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You might feel invisible today, especially if you think that someone special isn’t taking notice of you. Don’t fight the natural flow of energy as the Leo Full Moon illuminates your 12th House of Privacy, hiding your emotions from view. Nevertheless, your actions will still have the impact you want. Save the flowery speeches and love letters for some other time. Just let behavior do its magic. Even the most subtle gestures will have positive impact if your heart is in the right place.

Libra Horoscope

(Sep 23 – Oct 22)

You might decide to play it low key today and keep your personal feelings to yourself. However, you expressive Leo Moon falls in your 11th House of Social Networking, encouraging you to get involved with a group activity. Although you might resist at first, you’re like to find pleasure in your participation once you overcome your initial anxiety. Let go of your personal desires and melt into the group experience for now. Surprisingly, you can derive a great deal of emotional satisfaction by being part of something larger than yourself.

Scorpio Horoscope

(Oct 23 – Nov 21)

People are likely to stand up and take notice of you today, but the recognition you receive may be professional rather than personal. Fortunately, the theatrical Leo Full Moon brightens your 10th House of Public Status, empowering you to reveal your feelings to someone special. You’re at the top of your game now and it’s rather easy for you to shift the focus from business to pleasure if you are romantically inclined. Don’t be afraid to make your move as long as you pay careful attention to the reactions you receive.

Sagittarius Horoscope

(Nov 22 – Dec 21)

You might be dreaming of a trip with your partner or special friend, but travel plans could require extra attention today as circumstances change. Even the simplest of dinner plans may have to be modified at the last minute. Ultimately, the bold Leo Full Moon in your 9th House of Adventure reminds you to focus on your personal needs and do whatever it takes to reach your destination. The details may be unstable, but don’t lose sight of your goal. Following your bliss sometimes requires perseverance and hard work.

Capricorn Horoscope

(Dec 22 – Jan 19)

You may have to revisit a financial decision today that could alter you evening plans. Instead of making a unilateral decision, it’s smarter to check in with your friend or partner. It could take courage on your part to reveal your vulnerability, especially with the proud Leo Full Moon falling in your 8th House of Deep Sharing. Don’t slip into the trap of pretending that everything is fine if it’s not. Taking a risk and sharing your concerns could be the key to increased intimacy.

Aquarius Horoscope

(Jan 20 – Feb 18)

Don’t focus on your shortcomings today, especially if you’re worried that someone doesn’t like you as much as you like him or her. Today’s emotional Leo Full Moon in your 7th House of Relationships is opposite the Sun in your cerebral sign, reminding you of the sharp contrast between your subjective feelings and objective reality. Your performance might fall short of your expectations, but you may be judging yourself harsher than anyone else does. Simply doing the best you can will likely be more than enough.

Pisces Horoscope

(Feb 19 – Mar 20)

Although someone you love might rain on your parade today, your positive attitude may be enough to chase the bad emotional weather away. However, you won’t find your way back to the sunny side of the street unless you take a chance and give your imagination free rein to explore a new avenues of expression. The Leo Full Moon is lighting up your 6th House of Details, so paying attention to the little things can make the difference between failure and success. A bit of forethought and follow-through goes a long way.

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Your Weekend Horoscope for Feb. 14 – 16

Weekend Love Horoscope

February 14-16: Hearts and Flowers

Maria DeSimone   Maria DeSimone on the topics of love, horoscopes, astrology

This Friday is Valentine’s Day which means that life should be all about romance. But will the planets cooperate this weekend? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding YES!

On Friday a Full Moon will occur in the most romantic sign of all — Leo. This is the king of amore and you can anticipate great fulfillment if you and your sweetie have plans for a night on the town. Expect grand gestures, indulgent gifts and exquisite love making. Leo pulls out all the stops when it comes to giving love. He does everything over the top so you can anticipate feeling completely adored — even worshipped — by the one you love. You’ll also reciprocate this magnanimous spirit effortlessly which will only enhance your mutual Valentine’s Day affair.

Late Friday night the Sun will be at a fine angle to Mars which will only up the ante in the bedroom. Yes, sparks WILL fly! Then, on Saturday the Moon enters pragmatic Virgo. The energy of Friday’s Full Moon will affect you all weekend but once the Moon moves into Virgo there will be more practical attention given to each other. Saturday and Sunday love will be in the details.

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