Get it on
What is love? An irresistible urge engraved in your DNA, or a decision you control like the thermostat at your office? Some believe it is a supernatural force destined to bind individuals together in a swirling hurricane of emotion. Maybe it is all a matter of destiny. But there’s no shame in admitting you need a little help. There are ways to coax Cupid to aim his bow our way.
Lovers the world over use St Valentine’s Day, 14 February, as an opportunity to demonstrate their affection, woo, make declarations to the unexpecting. But Caribbean sweethearts also have an array of traditional love charms, handed down through generations, to help quicken the intended’s heartbeat. If you’re nursing a broken heart, or even just tired of waiting for a much anticipated phone call, maybe one of these little rituals will provide just the assistance you need . . .
• Across the Caribbean, the versatile aloe vera plant is used in a variety of folk remedies and beauty treatments. A few wise people also know it’s supposed to help attract a new love. On a night with a full moon, take some crushed aloe in your left hand and stand outdoors. With your right hand, toss a piece to the north, saying, “Come, love, come from the north.” Turn east, then south, then west, repeating the incantation. Your new love will appear before the next new moon. But please don’t let the neighbours see!
• Remember the old rhyme that ends with “sugar is sweet, and so are you”? If you’re finding it hard to get the attention of the person you have your heart set on, write your name together with the name of the desired one on a piece of parchment. Fold it and wrap it around an old thread reel, then tie it with a black thread. Place the reel in a brown paper bag filled with brown sugar, and hide it in a secret dark place. Then get ready for some attention.
• Can’t wait to get to the part about “happily ever after”? Keep some leaves or flowers from an orange tree under your pillow to ensure an early and happy marriage.
• Maybe you’ve already found the one you want, but you’re not sure whether your love has what it takes to survive. Find yourself a love-bush — a fleshy plant that thrives on most Caribbean islands — and pick one of the leaves. Write the beloved’s name on the leaf and pin it to the wall. If the leaf remains green and fresh, so will your relationship. In Jamaica, the plant known as love-weed serves a similar purpose: young lovers pick one of its orange-red threads and put it on another plant to see if it continues to grow. And the leaves of the timetica tree, which grows in Curaçao, are supposed to be able to tell whether love is reciprocated. Place one of the leaves in a book and leave it there for three weeks. If by the fourth week the leaf has sprung roots, the spark of love exists. If the leaf is dead — well, ’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
If all of the above fail, your local obeah practitioner may be able to recommend something a little stronger. And, of course, sometimes the best ritual of all is simply to open your heart and your mind to the possibilities offered by the universe. When you’re ready and true, romance can come faster than you can say, “ I love you!”