To think of love -- to write of it, to speak of it -- is to get lost in a tangle. Love is too big to summarize, too infinite to fully capture. There are too many facets on its glittering gem, too many fathoms within its abyss, too much brightness in its light, too much contrast in its shadow. How can words articulate everything, at once, the way love does?
Its overwhelming, all-encompassing nature is why love is so often “Love?” -- a question hesitantly launched from lovers’ lips, an inquiry carved into the heart like initials on wood.
When I began writing this, what you’re reading now, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the process of finding romantic love, the steps to take to invite more in, the healing rituals to dive into in order to make better room for love in your heart. It is Valentines season, after all, and it’s that time of year where the cold fingers of winter can make bedtime even more lonesome.
But as I wrote, I kept looping through the immense complexities and paradoxes of love -- not to mention Love -- and getting stuck on this very real and very true fact:
There is no single path towards fulfilling romantic love.
On top of that, the concept of romantic love in the way we comprehend it in our day & age is, in many ways, a misogynist capitalist construct that directly feeds hungry-ghost levels of feeling disconnected and unworthy. Knowing this can make it harder to accept the desire for partnership as valid, or understand how one-on-one romantic love fits in to changing the world for the better.
If you’re like me, part of the path is leaning into Love itself, combing through the tangles made by patriarchy and capitalism and racism and colonialism, finding the truth beneath the layers. It really is work. It alters how you understand your desires and your needs. It doesn’t discount romantic love, but it buffs away the bullshit and shifts romance into a better position in the priority list.
Most folks don’t question the validity of romantic love, and so this is a perfect example of the multiple paths towards love: what’s worked for me might not work for you; my struggles are not identical to yours; my inherited traumas are not identical to yours; what nourishes me might deplete you; what feels safe to you might feel like a cage to me; our end goals might be on opposite sides of the love spectrum.
I give and receive love as someone with Venus in Capricorn in the 1st house square my Midheaven. I give and receive love as someone with a specific matrix of childhood traumas. I give and receive love as someone who has caused broken hearts and as someone whose heart has been utterly shattered, and the reasons for those breakings are unique to the relationships forged between me and my ex-loves.
But as I’ve learned, too, every path towards love is Universal. The landscape changes, the burdens carried morph and shift, the detours and rough patches alter, but the path is The Path. It’s universal but it’s not universalizable. How you get there, what nourishes you, what harms you, what encourages you -- all of these are unique to you, and there are billions of souls who have walked the exact same path. It’s paradox. There’s no one ritual, no one recipe. But there are billions of rituals and workings and therapeutic approaches, all of them working towards that same thing: Love, connection, going beyond the self.
I’m no expert on love and relationships; I’m not a matchmaker, nor do I have decades of research and piles of data to support what I’ve personally experienced and what I’ve witnessed in others. But based on what I’ve experienced, witnessed, read, and practiced, finding more fulfilling human love very often goes hand-in-hand with finding a way to connect to big-L Love, the divine stuff, the glue that keeps things together, the sweet reason for existing and the knife that caringly cuts away what no longer serves.
Building a relationship with Love is the path I’ve been walking towards love, and it seems to be working, especially in those moments when I forget the side-effect (human love) as I focus on the real heart of things (divine Love). It feels strange to see my current beloved as “evidence,” but in the hour after dawn on Valentine’s Day, I found a note I wrote myself in 2017, outlining exactly what kind of romantic love I wanted.
It describes my relationship with my beloved exactly, precisely, concisely.
I could tell you, in exacting detail, all of the work that led to this love I’m in now, but the specifics of my path won’t fit neatly into your life, because you haven’t lived the life I’m living (if you’re wondering, yes, it includes a lot of tarot and a fuckton of astrology and hours spent weeping through shadow work). Instead, if you’re seeking love, I offer to you two exercises towards that goal.
WHAT IS LOVE: for those seeking romantic partnership
The first exercise involves a massive brain/heart dump followed by a lot of editing. You’ll want to set aside good chunks of time for this work, with at least an hour for step 1 alone.
Imagine your ideal relationship. Write out literally everything relevant to that relationship -- what are your partner’s qualities? What is happening between you and your partner? How do you feel within the relationship? What do you do together? What do you provide to each other? What do you receive from each other? Get detailed. Get mundane. Think about past relationships, think about your friends’ relationships, think about the relationships within your family. Feel into the wounds your heart still carries and consider what would balm them, or at least make sure they’re not re-wounded. Feel into the joys you’ve had in relationship. Dig deep. Write it all out.
Leave your list alone for at least 24 hours.
Go through what you’ve written and find the top 10 aspects that would contribute to your ideal relationship. Rephrase things as you go if you need to.
Narrow that list down to 5, again, rephrasing things if you need to, or adding things if revelations come through.
Edit that list down to one single statement. This statement should comprehensively articulate what component(s) of relationship that, if solidly in place, would make all other considerations inconsequential.
If you’re so inclined, speak this statement out loud. Call it in to you; ask for it to appear. Then, continue about your business, most especially the businesses of cultivating self-knowledge, tending to healing, and expanding love for yourself and the world. Feel free to edit your single statement as you continue to learn and grow and experience being alive. Keep your eyes peeled for what you’ve asked for -- there’s a high chance it will appear in a guise you don’t expect.
IN LOVE WITH EVERYTHING, for anyone seeking a more love-ly existence
This is a practice I learned from Rachel of Aeolian Heart Astrology, and it is the perfect combination of simple and effective.
Essentially, it’s a practice of developing wonder. Gratitude practices are super common, and are definitely useful, but I’ve personally found that cultivating wonder is more effective for actually opening up the heart. Bonus: wonder doesn’t come with a side of guiltily forcing yourself to be thankful for something you actually resent!
Developing wonder asks you to think in questions, but without needing to actually answer those questions. Some examples:
How is it that my life is so beautiful?
How is this landscape so gorgeous?
How am I so blessed to be friends with my amazing bestie?
How is this ice cream so delicious?
Do what you can to practice this as often as possible, and with things both big and small. Right now, for example, I’m flabbergasted at how nourishing dandelion root tea feels to drink -- and beyond that, amazed at everything that led to me drinking those roots as tea in this moment, from the evolution of the dandelion to the discovery of its medicinal properties to it ending up in my teapot. Like, what the fuck? How cool is this? How beautiful!? Most importantly, How?????
I’m not aiming to actually answer that How????, and instead sinking into the wonder of this tea.
This might feel a bit ridiculous at first, but as you continue the practice, you’ll find yourself a bit more in love with the world. To be a bit more in love with the world is one of my favorite experiences, and one that confers gifts I’m not sure I can articulate. You might say it’s wonder/full.
These practices are less than a drop in the bucket of practices that support seeking romantic love and divine Love. They’ve been immensely powerful for me, and they might be for you, too. If you do try them, drop me a line to tell me how they go for you. And of course, I’m available to assist you in this work via the insight of stars and cards -- heart work is always helped by reaching out to others for support.