For some people, Valentine’s Day is a happy day of fun and romance, when you cheerfully overpay for food and drink and circulate photographs of delivered flowers, cards and gifts on social media with hashtags like #truelove #happy #spoilt or #smug.
There you sit, in your bowl of cherries covered with chocolate-coated rose petals taking selfies with your partner and rendering them almost unrecognizable with flattering filters before Instagramming them. I wish you well. But……
For others, it is a day to bitterly dwell on failed relationships, yearn miserably and passionately for lost loves, and generally speaking wonder whatever happened to that attractive co-worker/fellow student/slight acquaintance you had that big crush on?
I have a special drink for you, my friends, and a spell to go with it.
But first, let me tell you a story. Look at it this way – anything which keeps you away from Googling your old objects of desire is a good thing at this point. And for the Lord’s sake, stay away from social media for the time being. No good can come of it. I feel your pain, and I share it. But really, NO GOOD CAN COME OF IT. I speak from personal experience, sad to say.
I’ve given some song suggestions later, which I couldn’t find on Spotify, but you may wish to link to this playlist now, for atmosphere:
The name of the glacier Mummelsee Lake at the foot of the Hornisgrinde at Buhl in Germany comes from the water sprites who lived there. They lived in the icy green water in a magnificent crystal palace, surrounded by gardens of shells and coral.
Every twilight they swam to the surface of the lake and danced on the shores, or hurried to the nearby farms and house with their spindles, to help in the house and farmyard. They were there in the early evening. But as soon as night fell and the stars came out, they had to hurry back to the crystal palace at the bottom of the lake where the King of the Mummelsee ruled over them.
One of the beautiful sprites fell in love with a young farmer’s son from the neighbouring village. When a travelling fair came to the valley, the water sprites came down to the inn where people were dancing.
The rapt sprite danced dance after dance with her beloved. She forgot entirely to keep an eye on the time, and even after her friends left, she stayed for just one more dance. As the stars started to shine down from the sky, she realised her mistake, and ran desperately with her lover back to the lake, through the dark forest.
As they reached the lakeshore, she said sadly “We will never see each other again, for I must die. Wait for a while by the bank. If blood rises out of the depths, I have lost my life; if it does not, I will be with you again soon”.
She took a willow rod and struck the water 3 times. The water parted and there appeared a marble-white staircase, leading down into the lake. She ran down the stairs without looking back, and the waters closed over her head. The night was dark. Not a single ripple stirred the surface of the water.
Then a small dark cloud rose up from the green water of the lake in the moonshine. It was the blood of the water sprite, who had to die for love.
We have a word for this type of situation now- it’s known as being dickmatized. History does not relate whether her human lover cared one way or the other. He may well have returned to his village, relieved that he didn’t have to deal with her.
A better-known story is the one of the little mermaid, who falls so deeply in love with a man she sees from afar, that she visits a witch, and makes a deal whereby she loses her tongue in exchange for legs to replace her fish tail, although every step she took on land would feel like walking on knives.
Even after she does this, there is no happy ending for her. Losing your voice in exchange for a place in society? I think a few people can relate to this.
I have created this drink especially for drowning romantic sorrows.
The Bleeding Heart
1 shot absinthe
Black Cherry syrup
The art of making a good absinthe frappé is crushing the ice as smooth and fine as possible. Some people advise using a blender but when I have tried it, this has only produced very cold water and some angry resistant ice lumps. Ice in a blender creates such a hectic noise, too.
The simplest method is to go Neanderthal, put icecubes in a clean teatowel, and smash them until they turn into chips. Crush that ice, until it lies in fragments like your youthful hopes and dreams!
Measure a full glassful, then pour them into a chilled cocktail shaker, add the absinthe and shake.
Pour a hard dash of black cherry syrup into the bottom of a tall milkshake glass, then drown it with the absinthe and ice.
The dark red syrup will slowly suffuse through the icy green drink, just like the lifeblood of the doomed water sprite.
Drink through a straw, so you can blend the aromatic fennel flavour of the absinthe with the rich sweet cherry flavour to your own taste. Imbibe alone, or with a familiar friend.
If you’re really feeling forlorn, you may wish to consider the advice given by Ernest Hemingway when he invented the ‘Death In The Afternoon’ cocktail of absinthe and champagne- “Drink three to five of these slowly”.
While you’re doing that, listen to the blues. Some of the most beautiful songs in the world have been written by the broken-hearted, and tell of longing, regret, misery and pain. Have a lovely long luxurious sad wallow. If you can work yourself up a bit, have a little cry.
Remember all those meaningful glances returned, those passing physical brushes which felt so exciting at the time? All the fantasies you took to sleep with you, which you thought you would share one day? Those casual snapshots which you gazed at afterwards, even years later, delighted that you had captured their image? It all came to absolutely nothing, didn’t it?
You’re in terrific company, right up there with Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Toulouse-Lautrec, Modigliani, Picasso, van Gogh, Alistair Crowley, Billie Holiday and Oscar Wilde.
For now, own it. Breathe it in. Drink it down deep. Be a Myrmidon of Melodrama. Be the King or Queen of Heartbreak. Here Be Monsters. Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here. Sink down, down, down. Kill with a single glance.
“Whiskey and beer are for fools; absinthe for poets;
Absinthe has the power of the magicians; it can wipe out
Or renew the past, and annul or foretell the future.”– Gustave Kahn 1859-1936
These are all good musical recommendations at this point:
“I Can Dream, Can’t I?” – Cleo Laine
“Down With Love” – Barbra Streisand
“Alone Again, Naturally” – Gilbert O’Sullivan
“Solitude” – Billie Holiday
“Key Largo” – Sarah Vaughn
“My Little Red Book” – Manfred Mann
“I Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” – Stevie Wonder
“I’ve Got It Bad, and That Ain’t Good” – Cleo Laine
“Caroline, No” – America
“One More Time” – Seals & Croft
“First Love” – Seals & Croft
“Never Let Me Go” – Cleo Laine
“Crying In My Sleep” – America
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” (slow version) – Neil Sedaka
But don’t allow hope to sink to the bottom. Let it bubble up to the top. Because you are drinking absinthe now, which has very strong magical properties.
Say hello to your new friend the Green Fairy.
One of the herbs used to distil absinthe is mugwort, the most powerful herb of all – used since the Early Times to make the famous Green Ointment, which witches rubbed on themselves and their broomsticks to give them the gift of flight.
Even if you do not currently wish to zoom off into the star-studded sky to attend a sabbat(although that does sound awfully fun, don’t you think?), you can use this herb for a classic flying spell with smudging (wiping away) and tie-breaking elements, all of which are properties of mugwort, and rid yourself of all that heartbreak and vain regret.
Drink your absinthe frappé, and as you reach halfway down the glass, dip your finger into its icy depths, and…..
Ring a bell
Dab the potion on the “3rd eye” in the centre of your forehead
Kiss your finger twice
Ring the bell again.
And say the old rhyme as used by the sisterhood:
“Horse and hattock! away! Away! Hear me! Hear me! Horse and hattock! Away! Away!”
As the evening goes on, you may wish to make up your own tune to the Witches Song from John Masefields “The Midnight Folk”:
“When the midnight strikes in the belfry dark
And the white goose quakes at the fox’s bark
We saddle the horse which is hayless, oatless,
Hoofless and pranceless, kickless and coatless,
We canter off for a midnight prowl…
Whoo hoo hoo, says the hook-eared owl!”
And let your consciousness fly free up through the sky, leaving your body feeling lighter and more joyful.
Who cares about those old objects of your devotion? You’re too f*cking good for them anyway.