All Focus with Sherry Gewitzke

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BRIGHTEST of blessings to you all. February is the month of love and deep symbolism so there is no better time for me to write my first column on ancient history, mythology, folklore, alternative healing and spirituality.

The word February comes from the Roman word Februa which means cleansing or purification .

A time to be observed February 13-15, it was an archaic rite connected to fertility. Lupercalia was a festival local to the city of Rome

Valentine and its celebrations and its customs may have been inherited from the Roman pagan spring ritual Lupercalia

Roman armies invaded cities such as ours and brought with them festivals and customs.

Boys and girls would follow tradition to enter their names into an urn (to determine their partners) then the couple would exchange gifts on the festival day.

It was considered a pagan celebration, so in 469AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put a Christian spin on it, declaring it was to honour St Valentine – a young Roman who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II who was said to have died on February 14, 270AD for refusing to give up Christianity.

The symbol of hope, according to legend, the snowdrop was the flower Eve found in the Garden of Eden when she was about to give up hope that the cold winter would ever end.

The white turtle dove is another symbol of peace and messages of love, as this breed pairs and mates for life. The colour white stands for purity and they are often seen carrying a myrtle branch, worn by Romans as wreaths on their heads and a Hebrew symbol of marriage.

The myrtle plant in Roman mythology is sacred to Demeter and to Aphrodite and Venus the goddess of love

The plant has many healing properties as the leaves have an essential oil excellent for clearing airways and combating sinusitis.

It also makes a good healing wine from its berries and leaves.

Each season a plant or herb will grow that has symbolic significance and aid healing.

By tradition, bay leaves sprinkled with rose water and tucked under your pillow will show you your lover in your dreams.

In pre-Christian times, February 2 was called Candlemas. It was known as the Feast of Lights, celebrating the increasing power of the sun over the coming months.

The candle was a powerful symbol, believed to give not just light, but protection from illness famine and the plague.

Candles were brought to the churches in bundles and blessed for the coming year, hence the name Candlemas.

So gathering our flowers, candles, gifts, messages of love and following our traditions, we cast our minds towards our intentions, our aims and our aspirations for the coming year, making way for the new beginnings and leaving the dark winter behind us .

Should we celebrate our seasons, too?

Give thanks to Mother Earth for her gifts to us?

Light a candle in remembrance of loved ones, pour a glass of wine for those we have loved, as well as those in our lives now. It’s not just a time for young couples, it’s a time to celebrate love in all its forms.

If you feel forsaken and feel that love has passed you by, then make a wish and see that person in your mind’s eye .

I shall send you my goodwill and thoughts of positive, loving energy because greater things can happen between heaven and Earth.

It may not be just the season that experiences a rebirth.