Saint Valentine groans, no doubt, at the bawdy day crowned with his name. He was, of course, celibate, and our celebration of love and lusty connections surely stands as a mockery to his forbearance. The original holiday had nothing to do with St. Valentine or celibacy. It was a Roman festival of unfettered sexuality in which even married women were allowed the freedom to be intimate with anyone of their choice for the day. And back before the Roman time, further back, in the times of the Ancient Ones, we celebrated the beginning of Spring and fertility, the return of Innana, the rising of Eoster with her red eggs and fecund bunnies in the early days of February.
Herbal aphrodisiacs abound, as Mother Nature is passionately fond of love and fecundity. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we nourish vibrant health, rather than seeking out stimulants, even when it comes to sex. Thus my favorite lover’s herbs are not damiana or cannabis, but oatstraw and seaweed, burdock and roses, and, of course, chocolate.
Oatstraw is the leaves of the plant that produces oats for oatmeal. Brewed up as an infusion, using a full ounce by weight in a quart jar filled to the top with boiling water and steeped for at least four hours, oatstraw is one of the world's premier interest and performance enhancers. A quart a day frees up bound testosterone, sending sexual interest soaring. It encourages "the most incredible slippery slime!" exclaimed one crone, "and I thought I was all dried up down there." Oatstraw improves blood flow, heightening sensations; it strengthens the heart, making it easier to frolic; and it calms the nervous system, bringing a deeper calm and greater fulfillment to the culmination.
Seaweeds, especially the many varieties of kelp, live in the home of Venus, and they make making love a lot more fun. The swells of the ocean, and its salty taste, are erotic and enticing. Kelps concentrate ocean minerals, much needed by the endocrine glands and sexual organs. Make seaweed a regular part of your diet and your skin will be touchable, your hair will gleam, your eyes will shine, and you may find yourself more graceful than ever in bed. Wakame, kombu, sea palm, and bull whip kelps are far better than dulse or nori. And not just a sprinkle. For orgasms that curl your toes you need to eat lots.
Burdock root is the gentle giant of herbs. Digging one out of the ground is a lot like making love to a woman who just can't get enough of you. The root goes down and down and down, holding fast and drawing you into her space, her life, her home. For those who want to use their time spooning instead of digging, burdock root is for sale in many health food stores as the vegetable gobo or as a dried herb. Eaten or brewed as a strong infusion, using two ounces of root in a quart of boiling water and steeping for at least eight hours, burdock root is unequaled for getting the juices flowing. Regular use improves lymphatic flow, sweetening your body odor, nourishes the oil glands, giving your skin and hair a healthy glow, and opens deep, powerful energy channels in your root chakra.
Roses are the flower of love for very good reason; they are rich in hormonal precursors. If even the smell of a rose can heighten sexual interest, just imagine what eating rose petal honey or drinking rose petal tea can do. When the roses bloom, drop their petals into a wide-mouth jar and pour honey over them. The longer it sits, the more aromatic it will be, but this honey is ready to use almost immediately if you can't wait. Be cautious about roses bought from a florist; they may be sprayed with chemicals you'd rather not eat.
Chocolate is the food of the gods, and a rising star in healthy eating. You need a healthy heart to be a great lover, and chocolate is certainly heart medicine. A mere ounce of dark chocolate (organic, and fair trade, of course) has more polyphenols than a cup of green tea or a glass of wine. Chocolate is a better antioxidant than vitamin C and protects the lipids better than vitamin E. Chocolate keeps the blood thin and free-flowing, and keeps plaque down while protecting platelets from fragmenting. Daily doses of chocolate lower blood pressure, prevent stroke, and decrease risk of heart attack.
A big red heart-shaped box of dark chocolate, a sweetly-scented rose, an earthy burdock root, some salty seaweed, and a mug of oatstraw. Now you're ready to celebrate love and lust on Valentine's day.