In honor of the deeply pagan roots of Valentine’s Day, this week’s Spellbook Saturday reading recommendation is definitely a bit steamy!

Stemming from the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated with sometime between February 13-15, Valentine’s Day was declared a holiday in the 5th century by Pope Gelasius, as a celebration of the (also super violent and nasty) martyrdom of St. Valentine, in an effort to stamp out the pagan celebrations.

Lupercalia, Andrea Camassei, c. 1635

It’s not surprising that capitalism has watered down this history, turning the day into a parade of chocolates, roses, and gendered cultural expectations. Instead, viewing it as a joyous celebration of pleasure and the promised return of spring can feel like a tiny act of rebellion. And so…

I’ve loved E.E. Cummings for ages, and this collection of erotic poems is an absolute delight. Cummings’ masterful use of language, his elasticity and playfulness, are all given room to shine when writing about the multifaceted nature of desire.

My personal favorite?

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the,shocking fuzz
of your electric furr,and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh….And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new

e. e. cummings

I hope you all enjoy the recommendation, share your thoughts in the comments!

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