For us gnostics, we celebrate 14 Feb as the feast day of Valentinus, a second century CE gnostic teacher whose influence was significant enough to give birth to a whole school of gnostic thought we refer to as “Valentinianism”.
Obviously, this isn’t the same St Valentine as the namesake of the day in the conventional calendar… except… we have no idea who that more conventional saint may have been.
The intriguing connection between “our” Valentinus and the traditions around the feast day is his school’s intense focus on love and its use of romantic language to describe the relationship between the Divine and the individual human soul. While our modern Valentine’s Day focuses on personal, human romance, mystics from Rumi to St John of the Cross have used the language of romance to describe the individual relationship to God.
This modern, romantic conception of love draws a lot from the medieval ideals of “courtly love”, which in turn arguably emerges from Cathar mysticism through the work of wandering troubadour poets in the 1200s.
As most Johannites are aware, almost everything interesting about Europe in the Middle Ages winds eventually through the Cathars and the Templars. In this case it also, satisfyingly, lands us in the company of Dante and the great Florentine hermeticist Marsilio Ficino and that mystical society to which several modern orders trace their origin, Fedeli d’Amore (click that link. I’ll wait.)
So… whether or not you’re drawn to the highly commercialised, guilt-trip ridden modern celebration of Valentine’s Day, perhaps this could be a day to explore romantic love as a metaphor for spiritual awakening, rather than nodding along with the tunes the archons play.
I’ll follow up on my own dare with some verse. Please enjoy responsibly.