Pam Grossman is the creator of Phantasmaphile, a blog which specializes in art and culture with an esoteric or fantastical bent. As co-founder of the Brooklyn arts & lecture space, Observatory, her programming aims to explore mysticism via a scholarly yet accessible approach. She lectures on such topics as “The Occult and Modern Art 101,” and teaches classes on herbalism and ritual.
With a February 14th birthday, it was inevitable that I’d be a born romantic. Dedicated to love and decadence, Valentine’s Day ignites imaginations and calls upon us to dream and swoon. But it’s not all candy and roses. The holiday was originally derived from the pagan festival, Lupercalia, which celebrated the she-wolf, Lupa, and consisted of raunchy shenanigans like parading naked through the streets to spread fertility throughout the village. Rrrrrowl, indeed.
But ultimately this day is about generosity and figuring out creative ways to dote upon your partner, your pal, or most importantly, your darling self. That said, here’s a myriad of marvels to help capture any heart.
For Sweet Hearts
If you think love is a fairytale, then you’ll fall head over winged-heels for these treasures.
Clockwise from top left: This Titania necklace by Larkandlotusjewelry is fit for a queen. Lock your secrets up in this red leather wallet with skeleton key by Urbanheirlooms. A magic love potion by Whitemagickalchemy: enough said. Hawthorn is known for its heart-opening properties, so this Hawthorn Rose Kyphi incense by Forestgrove should get your pheromones flowing. This psychedelic Victoriana “I love you” card by Inkadinkadoodle is right out of Alice in Wonderland.
For Dark Hearts
Gothic gals and guys need love, too. Here are some gifts that like to lurk in the shadows.
Clockwise from top left: Get soft as angel wings with this black soap by Soapychica. This key will set you free in Monpetitfantome’s stunning “This Is Your Only Escape” papercut print. Light up the night with a tainted love candle by Witchcitywicks. This butterfly-heart biology mash-up patch by tsl8 is a peculiar and lovely way to say “I’m yours.” Remember those packs of valentines you would sign and hand out in school? Yeah, this five pack of valentines by dollfacedesign is not them. And the arrow is such an apt metaphor for the exquisite pain of love, and this wounding necklace by Bloodmilk is beyond gorgeous.
For Twee Hearts
Sometimes I feel like being cute to my cutie, without drowning him in a saccharine typhoon. Here are some options that make me go “awww,” but don’t feel too cloying.
Clockwise from top left: Theo Ellsworth has become one of my all time favorite comic artists (side note: you must read his book CAPACITY if you haven’t already). I am loving his romantic beastie card. This “You’re Fantastical” card by Happydappybits says it all and is appropriate for friends and lovers alike. I haven’t yet grown out of my unicorn phase, and don’t ever plan to. This unicorn card from Ferdinandhome puts a sophisticated spin on mythic love. And I can’t resist this take on Cupid’s bow that is “tiny but tough,” as the maker, Datter, puts it. These star spangled chocolate-covered Oreos by Sweetiesbykim are a stellar alternative to Whitman’s.
For Sensual Hearts
At this time of year, Eros is in the air. Here are some treats to turn on your lust light.
Clockwise from top left: This surrealist sea nymph tank by Jamesanthony makes me weak in the knee-shells. Smother your smoocher in this heavenly wild rose balm by PhoenixBotanicals. These silk panties by Honeycoolerhandmade are sexy while still being elegant. Sacred Vibes is an herbal apothecary here in Brooklyn, and everything they make is pure and potent. Their love oil can be used in a long bath or as part of a slow massage. You’ll be a living fantasy is this lace butterfly mask by 1274PeriwinkleLane.
For Retro Hearts
Sometimes it seems our ancestors had a better sense of style than we do now; I long for a past age of opulence and fine detailing. No matter, here’s modern spin on good old-fashioned romance.
Clockwise from top left: Herbal Alchemy’s all-natural Elysium perfume is filled with rose, vanilla, and orange peel. It looks beautiful on your vanity to boot. In Reality Bites, when Ethan Hawke says to Winona Ryder, “You look like a doily!” I always thought she should have taken it as a compliment. These red heart doilies by Knot & Bow are pretty, pretty, PRETTY! Lover’s eye jewelry began being worn in the late 18th century, to remember those dear or lost. You no longer have to scour estate sales for one, thanks to this hand-painted eye pendant by Swanbones. I’d love nothing more than to lounge languidly in a nest of pillows covered in these damask velvet covers by Mogirldesigns. This rose-bedecked cocktail hat with detachable birdcage veil from Velvetowl will make anyone feel like a real dame.
Here’s wishing you a day filled with love and a heart full of wonder. Viva la Valentine!