Tag Archives: valentines day

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom by St John of the Cross

Where have You hidden Yourself,
And abandoned me in my groaning, O my Beloved?
You have fled like the hart,
Having wounded me.
I ran after You, crying; but You were gone.

O shepherds, you who go
Through the sheepcots up the hill,
If you shall see Him
Whom I love the most,
Tell Him I languish, suffer, and die.

In search of my Love
I will go over mountains and strands;
I will gather no flowers,
I will fear no wild beasts;
And pass by the mighty and the frontiers.

O groves and thickets
Planted by the hand of the Beloved;
O verdant meads
Enameled with flowers,
Tell me, has He passed by you?

Read the rest…

January by Ramon Llull

an example of catholic troubadour poetry

The lover asked his beloved if there was anything left in him to be loved; and his beloved replied that whatever could make his love stronger remained to be loved.

The path the lover must walk to search for his beloved is long and dangerous, replete with thoughts and deliberation, with anguished moans and cries, and enlightened with love.

A multitude of lovers gathered to worship one beloved, who filled all of them with love; and everyone cared for his beloved and his enjoyable thoughts, for which they felt pleasant wonders.

The lover wept and said:
– How long till darkness ceases in the world, so that evil deeds will cease? And how longer for the water, which customarily moves downward, to have the nature to move upward? And how longer for the innocent to be more than the guilty?

– Ah! When will the lover rejoice, when he dies for his beloved? And the beloved, when will he see his lover languish for his love?

The lover said to his beloved:
– You, who fillst the Sun with glare, fill my heart with love.
To which the beloved answered:
– Without fulfillment of love your eyes would not be in tears, neither would you have come to this place to see your loved one.

The beloved tempted his lover, and inquired if he loved perfectly; and he asked what the difference was between presence and absence of the beloved. Replied the lover:
– From ignorance and forgetfulness, to knowledge and remembrance.

The beloved asked his lover:
– Can you remember anything that I gave you, for which you love me?
And he replied:
– Yes, since among the sorrows and pleasures you give me, I make no difference.

– Tell me, my lover – said the beloved – : will you have patience if I double your misery?
– Yes, if you just double my love.

The beloved said to the lover:
– Do you know, yet, what love is?
Replied the lover,
– If I did not know what love is, would I know what hardship, sadness and pain are?

The lover was asked:
– Why are you not answering your beloved, who is calling you?
He answered:
– I am already facing grave danger to attain him, and I surely speak to him wishing for his honors.

– Crazy lover: why do you destroy yourself and give your money away, and ignore the pleasures of this world and go disdained among the people?
He answered:
– To honor the principles of my beloved, who by more people is despised and dishonored, than honored and loved.

– Tell me, crazy for love: Who is the most visible, the beloved in the lover, or the lover in the beloved?
And he said the beloved is seen in love, and the lover is seen in sorrow, in weeping, in hardship and pain.

The lover was seeking someone who would tell his beloved how he bore grave hardship and died for his love; and he met his beloved who was reading in a book where all the grief and all the delights which his love would give him for his beloved were written.

Our Lady brought her Son to the lover, so he could kiss his foot, and so that he would write in his book the virtues of our Lady.

– Tell me, bird who sings: have you come to my beloved so that he defends you from hatred, and he multiplies love in you?
Replied the bird:
– And who makes me sing, but the Lord of love, to whom hatred is dishonor?

Love has settled between fear and hopefulness, living with thoughts and dying by oblivion as the foundations are over the delights of this world.

A dispute occurred between the eyes and the memory of the lover, for the eyes said it was better to see the beloved than to remember him, and the memory said that through remembrance the water rises to the eyes and the heart swells with love.

The lover asked intelligence and will which one was closest to his beloved; and they both ran, and intelligence was to his beloved before will.

Into discord came the lover and the beloved; and it was seen by another lover, and he wept for so long until he had brought into peace and agreement the beloved and the lover.

Sighs and tears came to the judgment of the beloved and asked him which one he felt most strongly loved by. The beloved judged that sighs are closer to love, and tears closer to the eyes.

The lover came to drink from the fountain that arouses love in those who do not love, and his sorrows were doubled. And then the beloved came to drink from the fountain to double again the love of his lover, in which he would double his sorrows.

The lover fell sick, and the beloved looked after him: with worthiness he fed him, and with love he gave him drink, with patience he abounded him, of humbleness he dressed him, with truth he cured him.

The lover was asked where his beloved was. He replied:
– See him in a house that is more noble than any other created nobilities; and see him in my acts of love, and in my suffering and in my weepings.

They said to the lover:
– Where do you go?
– I come from my beloved.
– Where do you come to?
– I go to my beloved.
– When will you be back?
– I will be with my beloved.
– How long will you be with your beloved for?
– As long as my thoughts will be with him.

The birds were singing the dawn, and the lover, who is the dawn, awakened; and the birds ended their song, and the lover died for his beloved in the dawn.

The bird was singing in the garden of the beloved, when the lover came and said to the bird:
– If we don’t understand each other by language, let us communicate with love; for to my eyes, my beloved is represented in your song.

The lover, who had worked hard to search for his beloved, felt sleep coming to him; and he feared he might forget his beloved. And he cried, so as not to fall asleep, and so that his beloved would not be absent to his consciousness.

The lover met his beloved, and he said:
– You need not speak to me; but make a signal with your eyes, which are words to my heart, when I give you what you ask me.

The lover disobeyed his beloved, and he wept. And the beloved came to die in the gown of his lover, to let him recover what he had lost; and he gave him yet a greater gift than the one he had lost.

The beloved brings love to the lover, and does not pity him for his sorrows, whence he may more strongly be loved and, in the greatest sorrow, find pleasure and renewal.

English version by Jordi Miralda Escude
Original Language Catalan

Rumi (1207-1273) – Mathnavi I.109

Love is longing and longing, the pain of being parted;
No illness is rich enough for the distress of the heart,
A lover’s lament surpasses all other cries of pain.
Love is the royal threshold to God’s mystery.
The carnival of small affections and polite attachments
Which litter and consume our passing time
Is no match to Love which pulses behind this play.
It’s easy to talk endlessly about Love,
To live Love is to be seized by joy and bewilderment;
Love is not clear-minded, busy with images and argument.
Language is too precocious, too impudent, too sane
To stop the molten lava of Love which churns the blood,
This practicing energy burns the tongue to silence;
The knowing pen is disabled, servile paper
Shrivels in the fire of Love. Bald reason too is an ass
Explaining Love, deceived by spoilt lucidity.
Love is dangerous offering no consolation,
Only those who are ravaged by Love know Love,
The sun alone unveils the sun to those who have
The sense to receive the senseless and not turn away.
Cavernous shadows need the light to play but light
And light alone can lead you to the light alone.
Material shadows weigh down your vision with dross,
But the rising sun splits the ashen moon in empty half.
The outer sun is our daily miracle in timely
Birth and death, the inner sun
Dazzles the inner eye in a timeless space.
Our daily sun is but a working star in a galaxy of stars,
Our inner sun is One, the dancing nuance of eternal light.
You must be set alight by the inner sun,
You have to live your Love or else
You’ll only end in words.

   (tr. R. Abdulla)

Valentinus Day

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”.

Here’s Deacon Michael on that Valentinus.

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.

Here’s Father Donald summarising the candidates.

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.