Lupercalia isn’t a ritual per se; rather it’s a festival. According to GAC, festivals were ways for communities to reconnect. They served as a way for the community to interact, but also functioned as a way to express shared values. I think of it less like a local parade and more like Burning Man. That may be my bias, but community, for me, is less geographic to me and more shared values.
Lupercalia is a festival and falls just after Imbolc. I’ve always struggled with the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. My environment and weather do not reflect anything like England’s weather. By Winter Solstice there may be nighttime lows in the 40s or in a rare year 30s. But usually it’s in the 50-60s day and night. It doesn’t snow here and nothing freezes. There isn’t enough water for it to freeze. Sure the Solstice is the shortest day of the year, but it isn’t brrr, cold winter. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen snow. This makes Imbolc is even more of a struggle than Winter Solstice. There’s no crocuses. There’s no last gasp of winter. Some years, there will be rain – lots of it for Southern California, which isn’t really much.
What I do like about both holidays are the concepts of rest and introspection of the winter. I lean toward self-work, self-exploration, and self-knowledge. I think, I reflect, and I often performing banishings. I try to shake off all of the muck from the year.
Lupercalia is a purging. My experience was more intense than banshing. I was expelling and scraping away all the layers of negativity from the last year (and I suspect then some). In Ancient Rome, flogging was a common practice during Lupercalia. While I understand why The Grove chose not to have floggings, I was disappointed. My kinks aside, there is something visceral about pain, about flogging. In kink spaces, there is a mindset referred to as subspace. This is the moment that a submissive enters an altered state of consciousness, usually from physical sensation (of all sorts, not only pain). For me, there is something freeing, a release of anxiety, disappointment, fear – whatever sticky, muck clings to me and infects my emotional well-being. I cannot speak to others’ experiences, but within kink, spankings but floggings in particular, are a transcendent experience for me. It isn’t about orgasm or sex. But it is about release. I would like to find a way to incorporate flogging into my Lupercalia next year.