Valentine's for a Love Witch

“Of flowers and plants employed as love-charms on certain festivals may be noticed the bay, rosebud, and the hempseed on St. Valentine’s day, nuts on St. Mark’s Eve, and the St. John’s Wort on Midsummer Eve.- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, The Folk-lore of Plants

St. Valentine's day, a day imbued with the folk magic of love and romance; more common to the early American superstitious fabric of the common people than the old pagan fertility rites are.  There's something about Valentine's that makes love magic feel normal in the world for a moment, for everyone, even those who would typically never dabble in magic.  It's a social more than spiritual day, and there's something strangely likeable about the energy as it shifts and people put passion and love and thought into romance and friendship and desire.

"Before going bed, sprinkle a sprig of rosemary ad a sprig of thyme three times with water, place one in each shoe, put a shore on each side of the bed and say: “St. Valentine that’s to lovers kind,
Come ease the trouble of my mind,
And send the man that loves me true
To take the sprigs out of my shoe.”"

- Morrison, Lillian, p. 23, Touch Blue

"All who walk on St. Valentine's day should wear a yellow crocus; it is the Saint's especial flower and will ward off all evil in love."
- C.L Daniels, Encyclopedia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world

Love Magic,  that's my bailiwick.  Where sweet tastes meet rough feelings, where fury meets frenzy, where want and infatuation are a detonation... that's the realm I most enjoy.  It is not always moral, it is not always wise.  It is a short fire, one that burns quick and lingers after.  I like the kind of magic that send shivers up your legs when you reminisce about it years later.  Red magic, that's what this is to me.  That place where amorous and relentless spirits reside; the ones they talk about in the old folklore, you know, the succubae and night riding hag, the specter who tangles the hair of men in their sleep.  I don't dabble in it for myself much, but I love working with and for others.  Never direct love spells; no names used, no pictures of specific people- I've got my rules, my hard-stops.  But to inspire lust?  Spells of attraction, charms of allure, bewitching cosmetics and persuasive incantations... now that, I do.  St. Valentine's day has become one of the many days of romance and love that I dedicate a moment of my life to that red and pink and wild magic.

Bird Augury
It was believed once that birds pick their mates on St. Valentine’s day. Those birds of specific color who foretell the occupation of a future lover on St. Valentine’s day:

A blackbird- a man of the clergy

A redbreast- a sailor

A goldfinch- a millionaire

A yellowbird- a reasonably rich man

A sparrow- love in a cottage

A bluebird- poverty

A crossbill- a quarrelsome husband

A wryneck- no marriage

A flock of doves- good luck in marriage in every way

"If you meet a bird in a scarlet vest on St. Valentine's day, you will follow your love to the beat of the drum."

"If you chance on that day to meet a goldfinch or any yellow bird, it is extremely lucky."

- C.L Daniels, Encyclopedia of superstitions, folklore, and the occult sciences of the world

It may not be some ancient pagan festival- a far cry from the old Lupercalia of Rome, but it is the modern feast of love itself in the Western World, and we folk witches find magic in everywhere we can, especially in the old charms, tricks and incantations associated with St. Valentine's day. Just like Midsummer, May day, Halloween and New Year's, St. Valentine's day was ripe for the practice of love spells and romantic magic.  As always, divinations and fortunes are the popular pastime of the day; involving bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary, involving sweet scented waters and warm fires.  Hail to all those red and wild spirits that fill the day with kindness and passion.

Incantation spoken when tossing a pinch of salt into a fire every Friday for three Fridays:
“It is not this salt I wish to burn,
it is my lovers heart to turn,
that he may neither rest nor happy be,
until he comes and speaks to me.”
-Salt in the Fire Charm, p. 13- Duncan Emrich, The Folklore of Love and Courtship

“A popular charm consisted of placing two bay leaves, after sprinkling them with rose-water, across the pillow, repeating this formula:
“Good valentines, be kind to me,
On dreams let me my true love see.”"

- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer, The Folk-lore of Plants

Further Reading:
  • The Folklore of Love and Courtship- Duncan Emrich
  • Touch Blue- Lillian Morrison
  • Love Charms- Elizabeth Pepper
  • The Folklore of Plants- Thomas Firminger Thiselton Dyer
  • Magical Symbols of Love and Romance- Richard Webster

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