Valentine's day and ritual

Valentine's day and ritual

Valentine’s Day is upon us.  A day when we are invited to express our love for another. 

It is not entirely clear the origin of this practice. Some texts cite the pagan ritual Lupercalia promoting purification and fertility, whereas others point to the St. Valentine feast celebrating a third century Christian martyr(s)’s death.  While both of these events are believed to have occurred in February, it is possibly Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem The Parlement of Foules (1380-90) referencing birds pairing off to mate around the time of the St. Valentine feast, that brought the association of love to this date.

Regardless of Valentine’s Day’s origins, this is a day that has been celebrated for thousands of years, and highlights just how significant ritual is to the lived experience.

Why ritual?

Hypothesised to help bring stability to conditions of unpredictability, it is believed humans and animals alike, have engaged in ritual since the beginning of time.

I think about ritual as giving us points on a map to help anchor the uncertainty of life.  These rituals, may be daily, event based, or so incorporated into our world that they appear unconscious. 

No matter how simple, rituals can be powerful

At the commencement of the school year, a photograph is taken together with each school starter in front of our veggie patch.  These photos mark the start of the school year, letting each child know we are with them on the journey.

Or when one of the family leaves or returns from a time away, we come together to let them know they have our love and support, eating a meal nominated by them.

This week, having said goodbye to some special guests that stayed, to send their energy safely home and bring our household back to centre, I opened the windows and doors then lit some incense in the front entry.

Elements of ritual

Key elements of ritual to think about:

  • Be intentional – be alive in the clarity of your intention
  • Meaningful – engage in rituals that are meaningful to you
  • Transformational – take time to experience the shift
  • Belonging – rituals help us know we are a part of something bigger than ourselves
  • Symbolism – symbols can be used in ritual to efficiently communicate shared values
  • Witnessed – rituals can be very powerful when we are held by other in the experience

Examples of a ritual, I use for myself 

As I take a moment in between clients, to define the separation between self and other, often I use an aromatherapy mist.  I find the earthy uplifting aroma of the frankincense, very cleansing and grounding, helping me come back to my centre.  Acknowledging that Frankincense has been used in ceremony for millennia, I spray the mist around my body, bringing awareness to my feet on the ground, I connect to my breath, and feel my place on this earth. Before moving on, I take a moment in grounded presence to soak in the soothing to my soul.

Or, this evening, I will attend a women’s circle and before we chant and meditate, to clear away all that does not support us, we will cleanse ourselves and the space with a smudge stick.  As we take time to witness one another, a talking stick to symbolise our intention to listen from the heart will be used.

Put simply, ritual helps us bond and brings us back to centre

While for me Valentine’s Day is not a day I celebrate with a feast, love notes or gifts.  It is a day that I will use as another reason to connect with each family member and tell them how much I love them.

How can you incorporate more ritual into your world?

It is through connection we heal.

Wishing you a happy Valentine’s day.


Love Sarah xx

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