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According to http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

 

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

The history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailer’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It’s no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

The boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. The Roman “lottery” system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February — Valentine’s Day — should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine’s Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.”

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cardinals facing the challenge of winter by PATC

I found this blog post from Jeffrey Pierce of Oldways.com to be of great help and comfort for me , I consider Jeffrey to be  my ‘online’ teacher on this path. I like all of us face difficult challenges , some face major ones every now and again, and some of us face challenges on a continual basis. Is the world against us? Is God/ess mad at us? Is the Universe telling us that we are bad and doing a lousy job? Many of us take these challenges we face very personal. But the fact of the matter in my mind is that we are here for a purpose, we are here to grow , learn and mature through our challenges , that we all face, to hone our skills and develop our gifts and talents. Granted there are some things that happen to us because what we sow we reap and that is a spiritual law here in this physical world. But there is a lot of things not of our doing , but what ever the source we need to know that we are in boot camp and the going gets hard more often than not. I personally do not believe we were created just so we can have a good time and have all we want when we want it. That mindset just does not ring true with what I have experience in my life and what I have seen in the lives of those I love. Life happens and I believe that this life is school , teaching us what we need to know for the next life, which will have its own challenges .

blessed be.

THE SECRET OF OUR CHALLENGES

January 2, 2011
by Jeffrey Pierce

My daughter, Munin, is a talented young musician. She recently graduated to the sixth grade and her school skipped her ahead to the seventh grade advanced band where she’s second chair in her section. Getting Munin to practice is easy. The girl loves to play music and does so for hours each day. Where the challenge comes in is in teaching her that simply practicing isn’t enough.
Challenges show us where we’re weak, where our skills are lacking, and they bring our insecurities and vulnerability to the surface. Facing challenges show us that we’re strong, that our skills are still elevating, and that we become secure and confident where we once lacked both. To improve in anything, you have to push your limits. Any warrior can tell you this. Whether you’re training in a martial art, practicing for an athletic event, or trying to improve any skill, you improve by attempting what is difficult, not by staying within your comfort zone. Even when you’re engaged in something very familiar – whether it’s a piece of music, a drill in sports, or simply time on the treadmill – those who excel tell you that they still push themselves, seeking to master those simple tasks so that each crescendo, each throw, each stride is perfectly executed.
In our studies we learned that The Emerald Tablet reminds us of the concept of “As above, so below.” Simply put, physical and spiritual reality mirror each other. The concepts required on one level for transformation also hold true on the other. It’s in this parallel that we discover the secret of our challenges.
When we face challenges in our world, it’s not because we’ve done something wrong. It’s fairly common in spiritual circles to hear someone ask, “What are you doing to attract this energy?” whenever difficult moments arise on our path. The concept at the heart of that presepective is that the challenges we face are somehow our doing. Taking things a step further, it’s implied that since we attracted those challenges, that by altering our behavior or path, we can remove those challenges. In other words, a life without challenges is one where we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. This strongly implies that the challenges we face are wrong – or that we’re doing something wrong because we’re facing them.
What if we’re facing challenges simply because we’re strong enough to do so?
Pushing your boundaries beyond your comfort zone hurts. In music, the melody falters where it typically flows. In sports, you fail in drills over and over again until you develop the ability to complete the task. In martial arts, you’re defeated and pick yourself up from the canvas time and time again.
Challenges show us where we’re weak, where our skills are lacking, and they bring our insecurities and vulnerability to the surface.
Facing challenges show us that we’re strong, that our skills are still elevating, and that we become secure and confident where we once lacked both.
Growth happens beyond our comfort zone. That does not mean the process is going to be fun. It doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt. There is no implied promise that you won’t find yourself in tears from frustration or heartbreak. All that’s promised is that you can do it – not because you already know how or already possess the strength, but because you’re capable of developing the strength, insight, and ability to overcome it. Approach your challenge like a musician, an athlete, or a martial artist who is facing a difficult drill. Break the challenge down into smaller pieces. Where is the struggle coming from? Is it technique? Timing? Perspective? Do you need to let go of something to fully embrace what’s in front of you? Instead of simply plowing ahead and taking it on all at once, break the challenge down into pieces you can work with and address each piece you identify to see if it’s the one that holds the key to overcoming the situation.
You can’t take on an army by yourself, but you can face the warrior right in front of you. The key is to approach our challenges, not as a mountain to be climbed, but as a single step to be taken. We can work with small pieces – and every challenge can be broken into pieces we’re capable of having success with.

The next time you find yourself in a rough stretch of your path, don’t get down on yourself. There is never a reason to use the phrase, “I can’t,” when you find yourself knocked on your butt by the challenges at hand. Instead, pick yourself up. Look the challenge in the eye. You may not get it the first time, or the tenth time, but you wouldn’t be facing the challenges if you didn’t already hold the potential to overcome it. Take strength in that. Your struggles aren’t because you’re weak; you’re facing them because you’re strong enough to win.

Jeffrey Pierce . http://oldways.com/

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2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 18 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 72 posts. There were 8 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 503kb.

The busiest day of the year was September 20th with 63 views. The most popular post that day was The Raven Wing Guild of Christian Witches.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were theravenwing.org, mail.live.com, owlthena.blogspot.com, search.aol.com, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for christian witch, saint nicholas, pentacle, sagittarius, and maiden.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The Raven Wing Guild of Christian Witches July 2009
3 comments

2

A Symbol I Love February 2010
1 comment

3

A Christian Witch Community Forum… March 2010
4 comments

4

December 6th: The Feast of Saint Nicholas December 2009
1 comment

5

Sagittarius New Moon December 2009
1 comment

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Hope This Blesses You…

I found this through a friend on Facebook and was completely overwhelmed by what I saw this young girl was capable of bringing to life and the message she can send with her artwork.

She claims she is given incredible messages and visions by God and from this visions she turns into the most beautifully moving artwork ever seen by a girl so young and without any training or teaching of any kind…

I myself felt incredibly spiritually connected with her work as if I felt and saw God and Jesus’ messages within…and I have no doubt her gift comes straight from the heavens with the strength, light and love of God behind it.  I hope you find some blessings and perhaps some light and love upon seeing this video as I did…and maybe it’ll bring a little joy to your life too.

Blessed be!

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I have always loved a Celtic symbol I only know in my heritage as the Trinity knot.  It is also a symbol I have wanted to have as a tattoo on my arm or some place interesting.  Today I found out some of the meanings of this symbol.

The triquetra is a tripartite design comprised of three interlocked vesicae piscis made up of three interlocking semi-circles. It can be found alone, inscribed within a circle, or more often as in a logo, intersected by a circle within the design.

It has been found on rune stones in Northern Europe and on early Germanic coins. It presumably had a pagan religious meaning, and it bears a resemblance to the Valknut, a symbol associated with the Norse god Odin. It is interesting to note that the ancient Goths a Germanic ethnic group used this symbol. The triquetra later became widely used, in varying but similar forms, by the Medieval Celtic peoples.

Historically, this symbol has been most commonly used in the Christian church as a symbol of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This appropriation was particularly easy because the triquetra conveniently incorporated three shapes, each of which was interpreted as the Christian Ιχθυς symbol (ichthus, meaning “fish”).

In Wiccan and Neo-pagan beliefs, the triquetra symbolizes the triple goddess (maid, mother, and crone) or one of the triple goddesses, for example, The Morrigan. The triquetra can also represent the three basic parts of a human being: mind, body, and soul. The ancient Celts used it to stand for the three domains of earth according to their legends–earth, sea, and sky.

The triquetra also appears in the U.S. television series Charmed, probably as a less threatening alternative to the pentacle (five-pointed star, the preferred emblem of witches, real and imaginary). In the series, the triquetra represents the “power of three, acting as one,” which in turn represents the three sisters.

So, let’s reclaim the symbol as a Christian one and at the same time using it as a bridge point between historic Christianity and modern Wiccan\Neo-pagan beliefs, and possibly even as a way of recalling the ancient Goths.

Source: Wikipedia entry for “triquetra.”

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