Festa di Lupercus ~ Valentine’s Day
The Festival of Lupercus marks the puberty of our Lord, Lupercus. The Grigori have set “twelve labours” before the young Wolf God that he must master to prove his worth as the new Sun God. Lupercus proves his worth by completing the tasks. Lupercus is invoked at this time of year to scatter the wolves of the dark winter night. Assisting us in releasing the atavistic power within us all. Through him, we are free of the constraints of our bodies, and of the winter season.
Lupercalia is a Roman ritual of purification and fertility dating from such an ancient time that even the Romans of the first century BCE had forgotten its origin and to which Gods it was dedicated and even the meaning of some of its symbolism. (Contrary to Z Budapest’s statements, it was not known whether it was to Faunus and in fact I think it may have been sacred to the more ancient founding Goddess, Rumina, the She-Wolf of Rome.) Central to the ritual is the lustration (light flogging) with a goat skin scourge (see, Gardner didn’t invent it). This was often accompanied by much rowdiness and horse-play. The purpose was the purification of the people from curses, bad luck and infertility. The ritual is performed on February 15. The name of the month comes from the februa, anything used in purifying including wool (used for cleaning), brooms, pine boughs (which make the air sweet and pure), etc.
The rite began in the cave of the She-Wolf in the city of Rome where legend had it that the founders of the city, Romulus and Remus, had been suckled by the wolf before they were found by a shepherd. The sacred fig tree grew in front of the cave. Vestals brought to the site of the sacrifice the sacred cakes made from the first ears of the last years grain harvest. Two naked young men presided over the sacrifice of a goat. With the bloody knife, their foreheads were smeared with blood, then wiped clean with wool dipped in milk. The young men laughed and girded themselves in the skin of the sacrificed goat. Much feasting followed. Finally, using strips of the goat skin, the young men ran, each leading a group of priests, around the base of the hills of Rome, around the ancient sacred boundary of the old city called the pomarium. During this run, the women of the city would vie for the opportunity to be scourged by the young men as they ran by, some baring their flesh to get the best results of the fertility blessing (you can see why the Christian church tried so hard to get this ritual banned, but it was so popular that it continued for quite some time under the new regime.)
Happy Valentine’s Day (and Happy Howling :))