Wishing all a numinous day — today is Valentine’s Day AND Ash Wednesday AND Maha Shivaratri. If there are cosmic love letters to cheer us on at what sometimes seems like the end of the world, this koanic convergences of holidays is for sure one of them.
Mature romantics know that things turning to dust is an inevitable part of the dance of love — hearts and flowers and impermanence and holy ash.
May the qualities embedded in this day of entwined symbolism further all efforts towards a world that fulfills the wishes in all hearts for belonging, love, and well-being. May it further the burning away and purifying of all delusions and mental afflictions, and the harm caused to self and other when we are possessed by them.
Though I know many people who are cynical about Valentine’s Day, I’ve always been fond of it, regardless of the consumerist marketing that all holidays in America are subject to. Like all holidays we celebrate in American, the threads of tradition and why we do is generally a murky collage of Christian and Pagan. http://time.com/5143563/real-st-valentine-valentines-day-history/
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a period of 40 days of fasting and prayer in preparation of Easter / Resurrection Day. Some Christians celebrate by getting ash put on their forehead by a priest who intones the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” as a reminder of impermanence and mortality. This was a favorite activities during my childhood years in Catholic School: Being marked with ash on my third eye all day long imbued everything with a sense of mysticism.
Shiva devotees are known for marking themselves in ash as a reminder to develop the power of the third eye, to burn illusion into dust. Legends abound about the great god Shiva. Maha Shivaratri, the great night of Shiva, celebrates the time Shiva drank the poisonous negativity of the world. This is the night when Shiva performs the divine dance of creation, preservation and destruction. This is the wedding day of Shiva and Parvati.
It’s common for Hindus to get marked on the third eye, even on the daily; Christians only do it this once a year. Still, the reminder is there: we have the capacity to see clearly through the third eye, once we get weary of illusory stories of how it is or how it’s supposed to be — the aspect of Valentine’s Day that can become so irritating.