It is interesting that St. Valentine’s Day, celebrated in the second month of the year, is the festival of romantic love in Western culture. Interesting for a couple of reasons — the first being that poor Valentine wasn’t really much of a lover himself, as nearly as we can tell (though he was martyred for marrying Christian couples). Of course, his symbol has become the stylized “heart” shape, and the heart has long been identified, both East and West, as the seat of love. And so where earlier Europeans identified May Day and Midsummer Night as the festivals most connected with passion, the Christian world focussed on the day of the saint of the pierced heart.
The other interesting thing about February 14th being the lovers’ holiday, it seems to me, has less to do with Valentine, and everything to do with when it occurs: smack dab in the middle of the second month.
Metaphysically, the number two resonates with the romantic, for obvious reasons. Love cannot exist until one becomes aware of the other. That is the revelation of the opening of the second cakra in the kuṇdalīni system of spiritual yoga: the awakening of desire for the not-self. The irony, of course, is that the desire is ultimately to become joined with the other — and you can take that in any one of a number of ways.
Even so, as we approach Valentine’s Day, perhaps we should all take the opportunity, here in the second month, to recognize the Other, in all its forms, and open ourselves up to the opportunity to become more than ourselves.
So it doesn’t matter if you get roses or not: today is a day for you.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
You can explore the idea of the flowering of romantic love in the modern mythos in Joseph Campbell’s Creative Mythology.
Image: St. Valentine’s Day in the City 2 by Mehli Rustu. Used through a Creative Commons license.