Wednesday was the 14th of February, a day often referred to by my friends (especially the ones in relationships) as ‘Obligatory Romance Day’, and I can kinda see why. Valentine’s is over-commercialised, like Christmas, and, also like Christmas, comes with the message from society that you should do certain things, and must feel a certain way, otherwise you’re doing it wrong and are a terrible, terrible person. And that’s if you’re in some form of relationship – if you’re single then not only the day itself but the two-week long preceding heart-shaped red-and-pink fluffy commercial bombardment is a really good incentive to go live under a rock somewhere.
Now that’s not to say I hate the day, or think it should be banned, far from it. I love the fact that there’s a universally-recognised day in the year where if one is in a relationship, of whatever kind, it is expected or assumed that something should be done to celebrate your partner and the relationship you have. Not that your partner exists (birthdays) or that the relationship that you have exists (anniversaries), but that that particular person and you are in a relationship, if that makes sense. After all, people have busy lives these days, and between work, and sleep, and the basics of life (food, cleaning yourself, cleaning your environment), and possible children, there isn’t always the time to spend a day, or even an evening with one’s partner where you can both relax and do something special that you both enjoy. And Valentine’s does give you that reason/excuse/kick up the backside to make time to spend with your partner/partners, even if you hate the idea of the red-roses-posh-dinner-out-for-two ‘tradition’. A fair few of my friends do, indeed, put that on their list of things they don’t consider fun, and so spend the day (or a weekend near the day itself) playing video games together, for example.
Musings aside, what I’m trying to put forward is my feeling that people should celebrate Valentine’s Day, even if what you’re doing isn’t considered ‘romantic’, even if you’re in a relationship that’s considered unconventional (thinking of my godspouse and polyamorous friends), and even if you’re single. I might even say especially if you’re single. Instead of focussing on how much advertisements, supermarkets, other shops, and society is forever pointing out that you’re still alone and unloved, which is pretty much what it feels like for half the month, use it as an excuse to pamper yourself – buy yourself the chocolate, or the champagne, or the jewellery, or the flowers, or all of those things. Go out for a meal with a friend, or stay at home in your pyjamas, eat takeout and marathon a TV series. Even before Freyja came into my life I knew that self-love was something you had to be capable of as a person if you wanted to have a romantic/physical relationship with someone else, moreso if you wanted said relationship to last. Now by self-love I don’t mean being an egotistical narcissist (or the other thing – get your mind out of the gutter!), but instead having the ability to like yourself as a person, being able to see that you do have some good points, that you’re not a waste of oxygen, and that there are parts of your personality and/or body that other people will find attractive. After all, if you hate yourself, how can you expect other people to like you?
And so, despite having been single for several years I still celebrate Valentine’s Day, even if that just involves buying myself chocolate and/or making time to do something fun and frivolous without needing to worry about work or the laundry or how I could be doing something more productive with my time. However, since Freyja came into my life I’ve also had the chance to add something more, although the first year She’d only just arrived in my life and I was to busy flailing to do anything, and last year I was working ten-hour days and spending eight hours travelling every weekend and the day, from what I remember, passed by in a haze of tiredness. This year, ahh, this year I was going to celebrate properly – not only Valentine’s Day, but also Vanadis’ Day, an idea I got from this post over at Flame in Bloom. I had so many plans, there were so many things I was going to do for myself and for Freyja, and it was going to be awesome and wonderful.
Mm, yeah, not so much. Hardly a surprise is it, considering how much I manage to not get done generally. I would have done more, even considering my procrastination problem, but I got a splitting headache in the early afternoon, and after taking some ibuprofen the one-hour nap I set my alarm for turned into a three-hour sleep punctuated by waking up enough to slap the alarm into silence. Which, to be fair, does come under the heading of self-care, as my body clearly needed the extra sleep, but did mean I had less time awake to do the things I had planned. Which, considering later events, was probably a good thing. So, here is how I spent my Vanadis’ and Valentine’s Day:
The 14th, being a Wednesday, meant I had the day off, as I’m working part-time at the moment due to still recovering from the whole nearly dying thing. So I had an entire day to play with. One of the things that I was definitely going to do was have a bath, and it was wonderful! I don’t often have baths, as a) the en suite in my room is tiny and only has a shower, and b) it’s a helluva lot easier to wash my hair in the shower. So long hot soaks in the tub are a special occasion, for either when I want to indulge myself or when my muscles seriously hate me. It also doesn’t help that the bath is also tiny. It’s not the smallest size of bathtub, but it’s getting there. One of the perils of living in a converted building is the odd layout and awkward size of the rooms, which in my flat translates to ‘tiny bathroom where the door just clears the toilet’ and ‘incredibly irritating dog-leg just inside the front door’. I love my flat, I really do, but when I, a human of 5’4″, can’t lie down in the bath with my head underwater without my feet on the edge of the bath and my knees at right-angles, I do wish I lived somewhere ever so slightly bigger. But, space constraints aside, it was a wonderful bathtime. I’d gone out to our nearest Holland & Barratt a few days earlier to see if I could find some nice bath salts, and came home with this 1.5kg bag of pink Himalayan mineral-rich salt, to which I added a few drops of the gorgeous-smelling Love oil that I bought from the wonderful Beth about a year and a half ago. I also lit one of the salted caramel candles I’d recently acquired, which had a really interesting effect. If I was lying down/reclining in the bath I could only smell the oil, but when I sat up a bit and put my head above the top of the bathtub the scent of the candle took over. I stayed in there for about an hour, as I was able to listen to the whole of 40 Days by The Wailin’ Jennys plus a bit, as I’d set my iPod to repeat.
Having pampered myself and done a bit of Freyja-honouring (pink salt, appropriate oils, sweet-smelling candle) I then, having had a shower and washed all the salt and oil out of my hair, moved on to the Vanadis-focussed as opposed to Valentine part of the day. I started by using one of the Christmas presents I’d been given and made Freyja a present – an origami pig. Pigs, or rather boars, are a very Vanic thing with both Freyja and Freyr having boars as part of their legends, and one of Freyja’s names is Sýr, ‘sow’. Now when I first looked at the front cover of the booklet showing what animals you could make, I thought the pig was a rhino. The tail end you could tell was a tail, and you can sort of see how it’s meant to be a pig, but the top of the nose was pointy, and even when I’d made mine it still looked like a rhino. So I folded the pointy bit inside, and voila! A red pig for Freyja on Vanadis’ Day.
I then followed the lead of several Pagan bloggy people I know, and headed to the kitchen to make tea. Ritual tea and/or tea-with-deities is something I like the idea of, but not something I’ve ever done, what with me not liking tea – any kinds of tea. But I found this one which has apple and chocolate and hazelnut brittle in it, comes out pink, smells lovely, and is actually reasonably drinkable. I also dug out one of the green glass teacups that I got when I moved out of my parents’ place – they took the opportunity of my setting up home by myself to unload stuff they didn’t want or use any more, so I got the cups and saucers that Dad had had when he was at university. So, pig in one hand, pink tea in a green cup in the other, I headed into my bedroom to pop them on the altar and say hi. And it was nice to just sit there and chat, with wisps of steam rising from the cup. I didn’t get my tarot cards out or anything, what with not wanting the headache to start coming back, so it was a very one-sided conversation, but I get the feeling that She was pleased with the efforts I’d made, or at least I hope She was.