Go Rogue This Valentine’s Day. Be Your Own Valentine

be your own valentine

There is a lot of pressure on Valentine’s Day to splash out on thoughtful gifts, showy flowers, and an expensive dinner to prove to your person just how much you love him or her. If you’re sick of the commercialism, are alone this year, or just want to rebel against expectations, go rogue. Be your own Valentine.

All love begins with self love. Yet from birth we are taught how to conform. If we’re wearing the wrong clothes, we get picked on. If we enjoy our toys too much, we’re called selfish. Ads are thrust in our faces telling us that we need to smell better, have straighter teeth, and drive certain cars to belong.

When we get to school, the feedback on every paper we turn in tells us what we got wrong. Our work performance is about how we can be more productive. If we are too exuberant. we’re told to tone it down. If we’re not enthusiastic enough, we’re chastised. There are so many ways to be wrong.

Today I am throwing down the gauntlet. Let this Valentine’s Day be the day you step into your sovereignty and say, “No more judgments! I am good enough just as I am. I am love.”

We make mistakes. So what? This doesn’t make us bad. It just means we’re still learning. As long as we’re learning, we’re growing. Don’t stop making mistakes. Just stop making the same ones over and over.

We are all beautifully different. Some of us have freckles, red hair, big noses, tiny feet, or high pitched voices. It makes life interesting. We don’t have to look the same, feel the same, or believe the same to belong. We don’t have to purchase anything or change anything to be okay. We already belong to this Earth and to each other. If you meet someone who doesn’t remember this, be kind. They will get there some day.

The modern way of life is so disconnected, but we don’t have to be. We don’t have to buy into that story. We are free to write our own story and walk our own path. We can take the road that celebrates our struggles and our triumphs, the ways that we are the same as well as the ways that we are different.

We all need to remember little things like this. Society gives us so many messages and judgments that prompt us to forget and shut down the love inside. We go about looking for love on the outside while forgetting that love begins within. As Native American writer Linda Hogan said, “You are the result of the love of thousands.” You were created with love. It flows through your DNA and has for millennia.

So, if you are someone who is used to looking outside of yourself for it, how about starting within this year? Restructure your lens so that love comes from within and flows out before returning. Celebrate the love that is you and be your own Valentine.

Love is the Foundation for Modern Animism

love is the foundation

Oops! I made a mistake. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about love. For me, like Spirit. it’s silent. It goes without saying because it’s everywhere. It’s in everything. Love is the foundation for modern animism, so it’s easy to not talk about it because I take it for granted. I assume that it’s something that everyone knows.

We don’t speak the obvious because we don’t have to. I don’t announce that I am breathing, I’m female, or that I’m alive. People can see that, right?

After a conversation with someone, I realize it’s not obvious to everyone. Social and cultural norms are taught. Many of us grew up without experiencing love. Or they learned an unhealthy version of it. Many have really distorted definitions of love like: love is possession; love is control; love is obligation; and love hurts.

If that’s how you’re defining love, you are not in the best position to teach it to others, think of it in positive terms, or see it everywhere. Everything that flows from that tainted well becomes tainted too. So let’s look at some of these distortions.

Love is Possession

We only belong to each other because we choose to. Love is the binder through which we bind ourselves. When our partner binds us, that’s possession, not love. Where there is possession, there can be no sovereignty. The whole animist idea of life and spirituality just falls apart at the foundation.

Unfortunately this idea is reinforced in romantic pop culture with things like Valentines that say “Be mine.” It follows the idea that our lovers are our possessions. Possessions are things. They are not dynamic beings that we relate to. When we possess our lover, he becomes the object of our affection, not someone who is engaging in a relationship with us. Animism is relational. Everything is alive and relational.

Love is Control

Everything needs some degree of control. If we had no control, we’d have no structure. Life would be chaotic. Yet, when we force our desires or beliefs on others, that’s control, not love. That’s a violation of sovereignty. We don’t get to decide what is for someone else’s good. We don’t get to pressure or manipulate people into doing things because we love them. Love is accepting that beings have the power to control their own lives.

Love is Obligation

Hopefully we all take care of each other because we want to. It flows from our love for each other, it’s not an obligation. We care for our parents, our brothers, and the planet because we’re connected. It’s a way to show appreciation and connection. This doesn’t mean I have to volunteer, cook you dinner, or donate to your cause. That’s a distortion. What is given with an open hand flows from love. What doesn’t, isn’t.

Love Hurts

If you grew up with people who let you down, cursed at you, hit you, ignored you, or hurt you in anyway, then told you that they loved you, you probably internalized that love hurts. This is another distortion. Someone who does hurtful things can love you, but the hurtful things they do are not an expression of it. The two don’t really go together.

It may hurt when someone you love romantically doesn’t love you back. You’re hurting because love isn’t returned. Love and pain are two different things.

Intergenerational Deficits

When you grow up in a family or community with these types of distortions, you learn them. Then you pass them on to your kids. And they pass them on to their kids. The distortion becomes an intergenerational heritage of distortion that seems “normal.” You don’t know that it’s wrong so you don’t seek to correct it. Even if you did, you wouldn’t know how because you don’t know what you’re looking for.

This is where elders come in. This is why we need people who did learn this to teach us. Culture is taught socially. It’s experiential. You might be able to learn some things from books, but ideas need to be brought into the world to bring them to life. We need a community to live and reinforce them.

This is why people use words like, “I am a practicing animist.” It means that it doesn’t flow instinctively yet. I am still learning.

When love is the foundation, sovereignty is easy. Connection is easy. All the things that Pan Society talks about are understood from a completely different mindset. Things become simpler and clearer because the distortion is removed.

If you would like to deepen your practice with animism, we invite you to join us at Odysseys.