My Bloody Valentines: Romulus, Valentinus and Al Capone

 

Valentine’s Day is not all hearts and flowers and Fanny Mae.  But you probably already knew that.  The origins and subsequent ‘celebrations’ of St. Valentine’s Day have lent themselves to some pretty gory stuff. How did romance and sentimentality get intertwined in it? Well…

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”   — William Shakespeare

Grab some chocolates and read on to discover some origins of this strange but beloved holiday.

All Roads Lead To Rome

The ancient Romans had a holy day called Lupercalia, traditionally celebrated on February 15.  This was the original feast upon which St. Valentine’s Day is  based.  Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Julius Caesar’ actually begins on Lupercalia. Soldiers  Flavius and Marullus  need to set up extra security, due to masses of reveling people:

FLAVIUS:  Hence! home, you idle creatures get you home: 
Is this a holiday?…

 MARULLUS:  You know it is the feast of Lupercal.

The real trouble, of course, will come a month later, at the Ides of March with the murder of Caesar. But Lupercal serves as foreshadowing.  Trouble in the streets, bloodshed inevitable.

What exactly was the feast of Lupercal?  There are, reportedly, a few different origins. Part of the celebration was in tribute to the goddess Juno, the patron of marriage and fertility.

JUNO

Activities involved a lottery in which young girls’ names were written on slips of paper and thrown into jars to be picked out by the boys. The chooser and chosen would then be partnered for the duration of the  Lupercalia festival. If you liked  your partner, great. But if not, you were stuck.

The celebrations then continued in honor of  Faunus or Pan, the god of shepherds.  He  represented fertility and the beginnings of spring. It was also a dedication to Lupa, the she-wolf. Legend has it that Lupa acted as a pseudo mom to the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, suckling them from birth.  Romulus and Remus grew up to be bad asses and also were the founders of Rome.  Hence, the feast day was called Lupercalia, or ‘Wolf Festival’.

rom rem 2

Lupercalia was a wild and reckless time.

The festival rites were conducted by an organization called Luperci — the ‘brothers of the wolf’. They were the high priests of Pan. The festival began with the sacrifice of two male goats and a dog. Next, two young  Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk.  (Interestingly, sheep and milk play an important role in the feast of Imbolc.)

Next – the fun part! The Luperci guys cut throngs from the skins of the animals. Interestingly, the goat throngs were called ‘februa’ — hence our month “February”. They then ran through the streets dressed only in goat skins and chased women, trying to hit them with the februa.

loin cloth

It may not have been as violent as it seems.  Girls and young women would willingly line up to be touched by the februa which had magical powers and was thought to ensure fertility. The practice was therefore popular among women who were trying to conceive.

Shakespeare’s play has a reference to this belief as well.   Caesar instructs Marc Antony to touch his wife Calpurnia with the throng:

CAESAR (to Calpurnia):  Stand you directly in Antonius’ way,
When he doth run his course. Antonius!

ANTONY:  Caesar, my lord?

CAESAR:  Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

 

My Bloody Valentinus

How did the rowdy feast of Lupercalia become Saint Valentine’s Day?

St-Valentine

The real Saint Valentine  — aka Valentinus — was a very romantic 3rd century bishop.

During the reign of Claudius II, the empire was on a decline due to oppression from the Gauls, Slavs, and other opposing forces attempting to overthrow Rome. Claudius needed all the power he could get and felt that married men could  not possibly be good warriors.  So he made marriage illegal. Valentinus, a champion for true love, would have none of this! Valentinus took it upon himself to perform secret marriages in opposition to the emperor’s laws. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to death.

But it wasn’t that simple.  As fate would have it – Valentinus fell in love with the jailer’s daughter during his confinement.  Before his death, Valentinus  is said to have asked for a quill and paper. He wrote a farewell letter to his sweetheart from the jail and signed ‘From Your Valentine’. The expression stuck! 🙂

Linked together, the traditions all seem suspiciously similar. A lottery of valentines, the deliberate pairing of men and women, a celebration of fertility, a connection of death and love.

Saint Valentine was executed on February 14, 270 AD.  The figure of Valentine was eased in as Christianity spread through the Roman Empire. Around 500 AD, Pope Gelasius officially declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day, ending the Lupercalia celebration for good.

The Birds and the Bees

During the age of chivalry and courtly love, the St. Valentine’s tradition began to take on a more romantic meaning. In the Middle Ages, Valentine began to be celebrated as a heroic and romantic figure amongst the masses in England and France.

Remember Geoffrey Chaucer?  He did more that write the Canterbury Tales.  UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of “Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine”, credits  Chaucer as the one who first linked St. Valentine’s Day with romance.

Chaucer

In medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated on February 14. Hence, Chaucer used the image of birds as the symbol of lovers in poems dedicated to the day. In Chaucer’s “The Parliament of Fowls,” the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine’s Day are related:

“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”

valentine

 

Gangsta Love

In Chicago we have our own version of the day of love, commemorated by the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  On this day in 1929, famous gangster Al ‘Scarface’ Capone staged a shoot out against his rival Bugs Moran. It was an ingenius plan.

Slick Al Capone had his men pose as police officers, complete with uniforms and billy clubs. They then infiltrated a garage on Chicago’s north side which was a base of Moran’s operations. In the name of the law, they lined Moran’s men against the wall, pulled their tommy-guns and aimed. What resulted was the bloodiest annihilation in gangster history.

It is still a bit of a mystery as to why Capone chose Valentine’s Day to stage his greatest hit. Or perhaps it was very deliberate.

massacre

Astonishingly, the weasely Al Capone was never convicted of the murders. Later, however, he was captured and sent to the then maximum-security prison of Alcatraz. His crime?  Income tax evasion!

 

On this Valentine’s Day, count your blessings and share the love!

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Elizabeth of York

 

elizabeth of york

Elizabeth of York (known in some circles as the White Princess) was technically the very first queen of the infamous Tudor dynasty.  She was born on this day, February 11, 1466, and, ironically, also died on this day, February 11, 1503.

Young Elizabeth had a lot going for her.  Besides the royal bloodline, she was, by all accounts, beautiful, intelligent, kind, empathetic and well mannered.

eliz of york 2

She was the oldest daughter of King Edward of York and his wife Elizabeth Woodville. Elizabeth’s father had come to power after many hard fought battles with his cousins the Lancasters. Edward’s reign issued in a period of peace and prosperity. When he died unexpectedly in 1483, a new game of thrones would ensue, complete with evil plots and bloody battles as the Lancasters and Yorks once again strove for power.

Elizabeth was only seventeen when her father died. Her younger brother Edward, just thirteen, then became king. However, their Uncle Richard (Richard III) exercised his power as Lord Protector of the Realm and had Edward and his younger brother Richard (second heir) put away in the Tower of London for “safe keeping”.  What happened to the two York princes remains a mystery to this day.  Neither boy was ever heard from again. It is commonly thought that Richard had them murdered.

In 1674, workmen at the Tower discovered a box containing two small skeletons. Those are thought to be the bones of the princes.

princes

Richard then took the throne for himself. He did not keep it for long. Henry Tudor, a Welshman from a royal but illegitimate bloodline, also had kingly ambitions. He waged war. Richard III was defeated and lost his life at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Henry Tudor then became King Henry VII.  He knew it would be prudent to unite his house with York and asked for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage. Young Elizabeth then found herself in the rather awkward position of being a York heir, yet pulled into the Lancaster-Tudor stronghold, most likely against her own will.

The marriage, however, proved to be a happy one.

Elizabeth gave birth to eight children. The most notorious of these was of course King Henry VIII. He continued the dynasty and also fathered a rather strong tempered little girl, also named Elizabeth, who would  never marry, but would come to rule England for almost fifty years.

You guessed it! Bess the Virgin Queen was Elizabeth’s granddaughter.

bess

Elizabeth of York was a hands-on mother, unusual at the time for women of her status. She insisted upon having much domestic time with her children and often brought them to her palace at Eltham.  Although she left behind a great legacy, Elizabeth of York only lived to be thirty seven years old. She died of an infection on Feb. 11, 1503, just days after giving birth to her last daughter Katherine. The baby died too.

In 2012, the Vaux Passional, an illuminated manuscript that was once the property of Henry VII, was rediscovered in the National Library of Wales. This manuscript gives us insight into the strong bonds between Elizabeth and her family.  It depicts Elizabeth’s death, with a saddened Henry VII in mourning garments. In the background, an 11-year-old King Henry VIII’s red head is shown weeping into the sheets of his mother’s empty bed. His two sisters wear black mourning veils.

Fun Facts:

  • After her father’s death, teenage Elizabeth went to live with her Uncle Richard.  It is rumored they developed a romantic relationship, and Richard planned to marry her. Richard himself denied this, and sent his niece away after the death of his wife, perhaps to end further rumors.

eliz and richard

  • She loved music and dancing — a trait that was perhaps passed on to her granddaughter Queen Elizabeth I.
  • She was extremely fond of greyhound dogs and kept several of them at her residence in Eltham Palace.

  • Elizabeth’s grandmother, Jaquetta of Luxembourg, was rumored to have been a witch — a bloodline which was passed down to her daughter Elizabeth Woodville and hence Elizabeth of York. The women are said to have used their witchy powers to keep their various dynasties afloat.

  • She is thought to be the queen in the poem “Song of Sixpence”. The rhyme goes: “The king was in his counting house, counting out his money; The queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey.” In real life, Henry VII was shrewd with money and Elizabeth was preoccupied with domestic work, meals and children, so maybe it is true.
  • Pre-raphaelite artist Valentine Cameron Prinsep even painted this 1860 depiction of Elizabeth as “the queen in the parlour”!

Eliz of york

  • Her flower symbol became a red and white rose. Red represented  the House of Lancaster and white represented the House of York.  This, the Tudor rose, is still a floral symbol of England.

  • Remember the knaves painting roses from white to red in Alice in Wonderland? You guessed it! This was  not just some silly whim of author Lewis Carroll,  but actually based upon the rival Houses of Lancaster and York.  (“Off with their heads” was not far behind.)

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring Imbolc

 

Imbolc

The celebration of Imbolc is always a bit of a puzzle.   Here in the Midwest, at the beginning of February we are still in winter’s deep freeze, with plenty more snow on the way.

And yet. There has to be some hope of spring.  Enter Imbolc, the cross quarter fire festival that should help motivate us. This festival is often underplayed and really shouldn’t be. We all need a pick me up from winter doldrums. And besides, it is also a help to anyone suffering from post-Christmas depression 🙂

What It Is

The word ‘Imbolc’ (pronounced ‘immolk’ – silent b) literally means ‘Ewe’s milk’.  It also can mean ‘In the belly’.  Thus Imbolc traditionally marks the lambing season, the laying of seed, pregnancies (both physical and metaphysical) and new beginnings.

lamb

Imbolc is like a breath of fresh air, the very first stirrings of spring that help get us through the leftover dark days.  Imbolc marks the midway point between Yule and Ostara, a cross-quarter Sabbat.  It is celebrated on February 1st and 2nd. 

The goddess of Imbolc is Brighde (pronounced ‘Breed’. Also called Brigid or Bride.)  She is a fire goddess of spring and fertility.  The goddess Brighde was apparently so well loved that the Christians adopted her as Saint Bridget.  Bridget of Kildare is a patron saint of Ireland.  Her feast day is  (you guessed it!)  Feb. 1.   Bridget is, interestingly, also the patron saint of milk maids, dairy farmers and midwives.

Brighde

The goddess Brighde rules in unison with the winter crone Cailleach.  (Pronounced  ‘Kay-lek’.)  Cailleach (also called The Blue Hag) rules from Samhain till Beltane.  Brighde and Cailleach are thought to be opposite representations of the same entity.  February 2nd is sort of a stand off – Cailleach is still in power for winter, but Brighde is making her presence known through tiny stirrings, underground bulbs, sap inside trees and pregnant ewes.

Legend has it that on February 2nd Cailleach takes a walk through the forest at sunrise.

cailleach

If Cailleach wants to prolong the winter, she will make a bright sunny day – a teaser of sorts – to remind people that, while she may allow a bit of sun, she is still in control of winter darkness. Thus we are granted one day of reprieve, but watch out – cold days will follow.   Alternately, Cailleach may choose to  make February 2nd gray and sunless.  This (confusingly!) means she will send an early spring.

Cailleach’s method serves to remind us, nothing is as it appears to be. In fact, things are often the opposite of what they seem.

Groundhogs, Candles and Farmers

This story might sound familiar.  You may recall the ground hog.  Punxsutawney Phil. Yeah him!

groundhog

If he sees his shadow on the morning of February 2nd,  indicating a sunny day, we are in for six more weeks of winter.  If he does not see his shadow, spring will come early.

The Christian feast of Candlemas also is celebrated on February 2nd.  Candlemas commemorates the day Jesus was brought into the temple for presentation and purification, according to Jewish tradition.  Some people believe this was the church’s version of Imbolc, Jesus being the Light of the world, and candles representing that light.

Interestingly, farmers seemed to have had their own ideas about the Cailleach/ ground hog prediction:

“If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, winter will have another flight; if Candlemas day be cloudy with rain, winter is gone and won’t come again.”

 — Farmer’s Proverb

Anyone who lives in the Midwestern United States knows that no matter WHAT happens on February 2nd,  we are in for six more weeks of winter.  Maybe more.  Forget Cailleach and Punxsutawney Phil.  Winter is long, snow-covered, devastating and cold.  Period. Nonetheless, we can celebrate Imbolc to help us perk up.

Celebrating

What can we do to honor Imbolc?

Imbolc is a festival of light, and candles should  be included in any altar. White candles are great, as they signify purity.  Some other traditional symbols of Imbolc are:  white feathers, the  swan and snowdrop flowers.

snowdrops

Traditional colors are white, blue and lavender.  For stone circles, use milky quartz, moonstone, lapis, turquoise and amethyst.  Amethyst is the birth stone of February, great for maintaining inner strength and developing intuition.

a amethyst

Imbolc is also a great time to plant an indoor herb garden. Basil, dill and lavender can be started inside in bio-degradable planters.  Later, after the last frost, the planters can be moved outside to begin your spring garden.

On February 2nd  take a walk in nature.  Notice the emerging greenery, even though most of it will be hidden.  Pay homage to Cailleach and Brighde.  Set intentions for personal goals and growth as the new year continues to unfold.

Oh yeah, and you can always watch ‘Groundhog Day.’  In this thought provoking movie, Bill Muray gets stuck in a time warp, reliving the same day over and over.

 

Not only is this movie hilariously funny, but it helps us realize – it’s never too late to change, to begin again, or even to start the day over.  Until we get it right 🙂

Happy Imbolc!

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll

 

Lewis Carroll

Today we celebrate the life of Lewis Carroll, best known for his books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass.  He was an author, mathematician, Oxford don, part time babysitter, photographer, inventor, and a bit of an all-around inscrutable person.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know of my big obsession with Alice in Wonderland. I have long been fascinated by its white rabbits, mirrors, painted rosebushes, flamingo croquet, and the man who brought all these tales to life.

His given name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, but I will call him Lewis, since he is best known by his pen name Lewis Carroll. He was born on January 27, 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire, England.  Yes, Cheshire! No evidence as to whether or not he had a cat 🙂

Cheshire_Cat

Carroll’s father was a conservative minister in the Church of England, one in a long line of Dodgson men who had respectable positions in the Anglican clergy. Lewis was home-schooled until the age of twelve and developed an early love for reading amd writing. He attended grammar school at Rugby in Warwickshire, and began study at Oxford University in 1850.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and graduated with high honors.  In 1855 he won the Mathematical Lectureship for the college of Christ Church at Oxford, which he held for the next 26 years.

In 1856, a man named Henry Liddell took a position as Dean at Christ Church. Henry arrived in town with his young family, all of whom would eventually serve to influence Lewis’ writing. Lewis became close friends with  Liddell’s wife Lorina and their children, particularly the three sisters Lorina, Edith, and Alice Liddell.

LewisCarroll3

It was this Alice Liddell who served as the inspiration and namesake for the fictional Alice.  Lewis frequently took the children on outings. It was on one such outing, a rowing trip, that the girls begged to hear a story; the result eventually became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

It is said that Carroll never intended to publish Alice’s adventures, but his friend, fairy-tale author George MacDonald convinced him to do so after Macdonald’s own children read the stories and and loved them. Good thing they did! Can’t imagine a world without Alice.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865. The book quickly became an international hit, and was liked and promoted by Queen Victoria herself! In 1871, Carroll published the sequel Through the Looking-Glass. The Alice books are still among the most popular in the world. Reportedly they are also among the most quoted, second only to the Bible and Shakespeare.  And many of those quotes are really phenomenal, full of wisdom and humor.  Some of my favorites:

“I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?”

“I give up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter. 

“I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended,” Alice thought to herself.

“Shall I never get any older than I am now? That will be a comfort, in one way — never to be an old woman. But then — always to have lessons to learn? Oh, I shouldn’t like THAT!” 

“How am I to get in?” asked Alice. “Are you to get in AT ALL?” said the Footman. “That’s the first question, you know.”  It was, no doubt; only Alice did not like to be told so.

“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.”

real

Lewis Carroll was also an amateur photographer. He ran in artistic circles with pre-Raphaelites Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.

He took this photo of Alice Liddell. dated 1868. Alice would have been about six.

Alice LIddell

Years later, Julia Margaret Cameron photographed the grown up Alice.

Alice LIddell 2

Despite the fact that the Alice books brought him fame and fortune, Carroll never left his position as don at Oxford. Other than traveling a bit throughout Europe, he seems to have lived modestly. He wrote a few more books — The Hunting of the Snark, a fantastical “nonsense” poem, and Sylvie and Bruno, a fairy tale which satirized English society. Neither had the astounding success of the Alice stories. He also wrote several treatises  on mathematics, which he published under his real name, Charles Dodgson. His writings included works of geometry, linear and matrix algebra, mathematical logic and recreational mathematics. Yes, complicated stuff!

Carroll/ Dodgson’s mathematical contributions are noteworthy. Apparently, he was exploring The Matrix long before Keanu Reeves.

matrix

At Oxford he developed a theory known as the “Dodgson Condensation”, a method of evaluating mathematical determinants and patterns within equations. His work attracted renewed interest in the late 20th century when mathematicians Martin Gardner and William Warren Bartley reevaluated his  contributions to symbolic logic. This led them to the “Alternating Sign Matrix” conjecture, now a theorem. The discovery  of additional ciphers that Carroll had constructed showed that he had employed sophisticated mathematical ideas in their creation.  Perhaps he understood that through mathematics and chemistry, humankind may eventually reach the kind of alternate worlds he created for Alice.

alice matrix

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lewis Carroll died of pneumonia on 14 January 1898 at the age of 65.

Some Fun Facts:

  • He was one of eleven children, the oldest son
  • As a young child, he suffered a fever which left him deaf in one ear
  • He was six feet tall — really tall by Victorian standards.
  • A self- deprecating guy, he often referred to himself as “the dodo” and is said to have modeled the Dodo in Alice after himself!
  • In actuality he was hardly a dodo, more like a near genius.
  • He invented the earliest version of Scrabble — a type of word ladder in which the words were changed by adding one letter.
  • He was an ordained deacon of the Anglican Church.
  • Don’t let the stoic pictures fool you. Although he never married, his letters and diary entries indicate he had relationships with several women, both married and single, which would have been considered “scandalous” by Victorian standards.

 

Happy Birthday Lewis!

alice-vogue

 

 

 

 

Saint Agnes and the Virgins

 

agnes eve 4

 “They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve, 

 Young virgins might have visions of delight, 

 And soft adorings from their loves receive 

Upon the honey’d middle of the night, 

 If ceremonies due they did aright.”    — John Keats

 

Single ladies, you might want to pay special attention to your dreams tonight. Legend has it that after midnight on the Eve of Saint Agnes Day (January 21st) young women are likely to dream of their future husband.

Of course, you will have to perform a few rituals in order to make this happen.

First, take one sprig of rosemary and one sprig of thyme.

Rosemaryandthyme1

Sprinkle them with water.  Put the rosemary in your left shoe and the thyme in your right. Place each shoe on opposite sides of your bed.

Next, make sure you go to bed without any supper. (Apparently hunger is a good state to induce psychic dreaming.) Then, take off all your clothes, get in bed and lie supine with your hands underneath your pillow.  Look up to the heavens and do not look behind you. Before falling asleep say,

“Saint Agnes, that’s to lovers kind

 Come ease the trouble of my mind.”

Your future husband will then appear in your dream, kiss you and join you for the dinner you so devoutly skipped hours before.

Agnes 5

This is an interesting tradition and it got me wondering: Just who was Saint Agnes and what qualifies her for this type of husband dreaming?

According to tradition, Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility. She was born in 291 AD and raised in one of the few early Catholic families, long before Constantine decided to convert the entire Roman empire to Christianity.

Agnes was a beautiful girl from a wealthy family and therefore considered a great catch for any man, since she had both good looks and money.  By the time she was twelve years old, Agnes was considered to be of marrying age. ( I know! Horrendous by our standards, but quite normal for the 3rd century.)  Many young men of noble status came calling but Agnes chose not to wed and was determined to keep her virginity.  The guys, insulted by Agnes’ devotion to sexual purity, submitted her name to the authorities as a follower of Christianity. This of course led to her arrest.

The Prefect Sempronius (head honcho) condemned Agnes to be dragged naked through the streets to a brothel. Legend has it that as she prayed, her hair grew long enough to cover her entire body. (She at least had it easier than Cersei Lannister!)

agnes 4

It was also said that men attempted to rape her in the street, but all of them were immediately struck blind.

One of these men happened to be the son of Prefect Sempronius. He was struck not only blind but dead. However, he was revived after Agnes prayed for him. Even so, Agnes was still put on trial and sentenced to be burned at the stake.  She was bound, gagged and  tied down, but miraculously, the bundle of wood beneath her would not burn! The officer in charge then drew his sword and without blinking an eyelash, promptly beheaded her.

Agnes died on January 21, 304 AD, at the tender age of thirteen.

Perhaps you noticed a bit of irony here…  Why would a virgin martyr, famous for purity and chastity, be qualified to predict the future husbands of young girls? Some ideas about this were clarified by author Robert Ellsberg in his book Blessed Among All Women: Saints Prophets and Witnesses For Our Time.

Ellsberg states: “In the story of Agnes the opposition is not between sex and virginity. The conflict is between a young woman’s power in Christ to define her own identity versus a patriarchal culture’s claim to identify her in terms of her sexuality.”

According to the view shared by Roman culture at the time, if Agnes would not agree to be one man’s wife, she might as well be every man’s whore. (Hence the trip to the brothel.)

Ellsberg further claims: “Agnes did not choose death. She chose not to worship the gods of her culture. …Espoused to Christ, she was beyond the power of any man to ‘have his way with her’. ‘Virgin’ in this case is another way of saying Free Woman.”  It may be that because Agnes made a strong but painful choice, she was given the power to reveal a choice to others.

Saint Agnes’ story has inspired many artists including William Holman Hunt and  John Everett Millais.

Agnes 6

In the winter of 1819, poet John Keats wrote one of his most famous poems “The Eve of Saint Agnes”. The poem tells a medieval tale of a forbidden tryst between lovers Madeline and Porphyro, who, like Romeo and Juliet are both victims of their families ancient rivalry. The original text was reportedly so erotic that Keats’ editors made him tone it down before the poem could be published. Read the full text  HERE.

If you decide to do an Agnes ritual and find a future husband on your horizon,  please let me know!  Here are some further folkloric interpretations of Saint Agnes Dreams:

“If you dream of a man, that’s your future husband! 
If you dream of lots of men you are going to get married many times. 
If you don’t dream of any men it means you will live alone.
If you dream of thistles or thorny plants it means your husband will rarely shave.
If you dream of a puddle it means your husband will sweat profusely.
If you dream of poultry it means your husband’s breath will smell.
If you dream of a mouse it means your husband will be obedient.
If you dream of white clouds it means your husband will be old.
If you dream of eggs it means your husband will be young.”  — Adapted from “The Dark Dreams of the Fertile Woman’s Mind” – Sir Dalton Falsworthy 1831. 

Happy dreaming and happy Saint Agnes Day.

agnes eve