Love. It makes the world go round, conquers all and warps the mind. We are star-crossed by it, swept away by it, fall into it, and become fools for it. It canít be bought, but some have paid dearly for it. Allís fair in it. Wars have been fought for it, and kingdoms renounced for it. Itís better than wine, sweeter than candy and more glorious than a summerís day. And anyone will tell you itís better to have done it and lost, than never have done it at all.
Love words pepper the language. There are love seats, love bugs, love nests, and love handles. We can be love sick, love-struck and lovelorn. Love songs fill the air. Broken hearts sing the blues. Torch songs can heat up a room. And many are the maids whoíve swooned to a croonerís tune.
Like hunger and thirst, love is a basic human need. It must be satisfied. We are consumed by our longing for it, and search unceasingly until we find the one true bond that fills the void. So basic is love to existence, that even the earliest civilizations recognized its link with mating and procreation. Since time immemorial, supplicants have prayed to the divinities of love for the blessing of fertility.
Our ancestorsí lives followed the revolving seasonal wheel. The agricultural cycle of planting and harvest lies at the heart of all the earliest religions. And since it was undeniably the female who gave birth to the young, so too was the magic of sprouting grain ascribed to a divine feminine principle. Even in the midst of our technological space age she survives. We know her as Mother Nature and think of her as a woman in her prime years. But when humanity was young, the Goddess had a very different personality.
In the Middle Eastís fertile crescent where civilization had its beginning, she was young, beautiful, alluring and fickle. They called her Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite, Venus. And her winged son, Cupid, armed with a magic bow and quiver of gold and lead-tipped arrows pierced the hearts of mortals causing them to fall in or out of love as she decreed.
The sensually scented rose was her sacred flower. In temples draped with rose garlands, her priestesses wore rose crowns and bathed in rose water. Cleopatra once carpeted a room with rose petals so that Marc Antonyís footsteps would release their seductive perfume into the air. At ancient love feasts aphrodisiacal rose wine and rose sweetmeats titillated guestsí palates for more substantive love treats.