In my browsing of Wikipedia for information on Valentine’s Day, I learned about the Roman holiday Lupercalia. Lupercalia was celebrated from February 13th to 15th. During the Ides of February, after a little ritual sacrifice of a couple of goats and a dog, and a bit of feasting, young men dressed in next to nothing, just a little flap of goat skin, would run around lashing people with thongs made out of the throat slitted goats, and perhaps the dog, though this is unclear from the entry. Women would throng to be thonged because it supposedly insured fertility, prevented sterility and eased the pains of childbirth.
While I could do without the animal sacrifice, I think we all would enjoy some young, nubile male flesh running around lashing people.
Let’s meditate on that image for a moment.
Today, I think we need a little sympathetic magic. The pain of the lash to help us as we imagine giving birth to new lives. We need to be fertile, not so much physically, though I am not one to underestimate the pain of sterility. We need to give birth to new ideas, new forms. Or rebirth old ideas that might, after an alchemical process in a crucible made of our wounded (non-gendered) wombs, allow us to transform things.
At this point, it may be safe to say that our federal and state governments are as useless as tits on a boar hog when it comes to dealing with the real problems facing us- jobless recovery, housing crisis, escalating health care costs, environmental degradation. We should leave some folks to advocate for policy change, but I think the rest of us are going to have to figure out how to feed, shelter, heal, clothe, employ and take care of one another. We have to figure out how to love one another. How to love the world.
On this day dedicated to love, commit to a love larger than the romantic. Give a box of chocolates to the man sitting on the corner with his “will work for food” sign. Better yet give him a bag of food. Hand your heart out to everyone, even those you hate, knowing that your heart will be broken over and over again as people (and animals) disappoint us, as they depart from us, as they die on us.
Today (and tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, and the day after that), feed people, shelter them, clothe them, employ them, heal them. Take care of people. Love people. Poor people, rich people, sick people, well people. Adorable people. Annoying as all get out people. It is simple.
Don’t worry about fixing people. Don’t bother about whether people are worthy. Don’t spend too much time agonizing over your motives. Take it from me, they probably are fucked up. But the only way to un-fuck them is to begin where you are, commit to the work and pay attention and make adjustments as you go along. Waiting on the sidelines until you are pure of heart means you will never get in the game.
It is simple but not easy. As we do this work- to feed, clothe, employ, shelter, heal, take care, love- we make sacrifices, though not of the two goat, one dog variety. We make mistakes. We fail to do our duty to the world. We let our fear of not having enough stop us from giving to others. We let confrontations with our opponents dry out our hearts.
And it hurts. Oh, how it hurts.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, let yourself be lashed. Let the slings and arrows pierce you to the core. Crowd to the front of the throng to get it right in the kisser.