I’ve never really been one to ‘buy in’ on the whole Valentine’s Day thing. I think any ‘holiday’ that tries to guilt you into buying stuff you don’t need to prove your love for someone (I’m looking at you too, Christmas), is a bit bullshit 🤷‍♀️

So, then why am I writing a Valentine’s Day post? Well, I wanted to use this opportunity, in the spirit of what Valentine’s Day is supposed to represent, to talk all about love.

My work is all about love, specifically self-love and how to cultivate it using sensual and soulful practices. One of my main teachings is about connection – to your Self, your mind, your body, the environment and also, to others.

Today in The Ritual Series, I’m going to take you through a Valentine’s Ritual designed to enhance connection, intimacy and love. I’ve created this ritual in such a way that enables you to explore either alone or with a lover.

Always romance yourself first.

Make room in your life to practice showing yourself deep love, care and reverence. This dedication to your own self-care and pleasure will deeply enhance your ability to give and receive love, to romance your lover, and be romanced in return.

So, let’s begin….

Sacred Space
There’s a reason why this is always the first step of almost all the rituals I share with you in The Ritual Series, and it’s because it is so important to set the mood as well as creating a safe place for you to relax in. By creating your own sacred space for your date night – be it with yourself, or your lover – you are setting an energetic intention that this time is special.

Make sure your space is clean and tidy of any clutter, turn down the lights, make it cosy. Check my previous post on The Sacred Space Ritual for guidance on how to set the mood just right.

Feast for the Senses
I recently had a lover invite me over for what he called “a feast for the senses” – it was as delicious as it sounds. I’ve taken a page out of his book with this one.

Make your own “feast” by incorporating things to rouse all the senses. If you’ve set up your sacred space as per my guidance, you’ll have ticked a lot of these off already.

   Sight – along with making your space beautiful, think about how you can make yourself (and your lover) feel beautiful, luxurious and radiant. Perhaps it’s wearing a special dress, lingerie or some jewellery that makes you feel divine. Remember that what you wear can have an impact on how you *feel* and is as much about you as it can be about highlighting your radiance for your lover. It always starts with you, though.

   Smell – scent has the power to transport us and trigger our memories. Perhaps there’s a scent that reminds you of a certain time, or evokes a sense of love. It could be some incense, a scented candle, essential oils or a perfume.

   Sound – music plays such an important role in creating ambiance and the wrong music can really throw off the vibes. Find a playlist ahead of time that makes you feel calm, relaxed, sexy. You can check out some of my playlists here or try searching Spotify for some curated lists. If you’re ready to get straight to the point, one of my faves is this Sex Playlist / Late Night R&B that works a treat, if that’s your vibe 😉 If you’d prefer a more sacred vibe, choose some instrumental music with no lyrics so you don’t get distracted and can then surrender fully to be ravished by your partner.

   Taste – think about setting out foods that make you feel sensual and indulgent. Dark chocolate and strawberries are a definite winner for me.

   Touch – you want to physically feel comfortable in your space. Perhaps it’s some blankets and cosy cushions piled on the floor or fresh sheets on the bed. Perhaps you’ve prepared by moisturising so your skin feels soft and luscious. Think about the temperature too, not too hot and not too cold – just right.

Presence
There is nothing more romantic than true, undivided attention. This is not a time to be documenting the experience one insta-story at a time. Put your phone away (like, in a different room and turned off) and be present with yourself or your partner. Presence is the ability to be here now, nowhere else. Show yourself (and your partner) your love by being in the moment and not stuck in your head thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list. Everything else can wait.

Soulful Eye-Gazing
I’ve spoken about the power of eye-contact and eye-gazing before (here) and there is nothing quite as powerful as intentional eye-contact to foster intimacy and connection. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and I believe this to be true. There is an incredible shift in energy that happens when you spend some time looking into someone else’s (or your own) eyes. The mask of the ego drops and you’re left seeing who they really are. It’s so special and I strongly encourage you to make eye contact with more people in your life – not just yourself and your lover, but your friends and family too. Sharing eye contact doesn’t have to feel ‘weird’, we’ve just been conditioned to fear the sense of intimacy it inevitably conjures up.

   Riding solo – if you’re luxuriating yourself this Valentine’s Ritual, spend some time in front of the mirror. This can be a difficult task for some of us who may have a fractured relationship with our reflection. Mirror-work is a very powerful healing practice, though, and I gently encourage you to try this. First, start looking into your eyes with love. Look into your eyes, your soul, like a lover would – with reverence and adoration. Be gentle with yourself. You may also like to look at your body and repeat the words “I love you” as you scan each part. The goal here is to fill yourself up with love, so take it to where you are comfortable for now.

   Paired up – I swear I could fall in love with someone just by gazing in to their eyes for a significant amount of time – I very nearly have. I’ve been to many eye-gazing workshops where couples in attendance shared that they had never spent that long (only a few minutes) actually looking in to each other’s eyes. Perhaps the same is true for you. Eye-gazing is a beautiful way to build intimacy and empathy in your relationship, and is the best way to connect you both at a heart and soul level. You might like to try setting a timer, or perhaps choosing a song or two, and committing to gazing lovingly in to one another’s eyes for the duration. Please try this – it’s very special and more magical than I can put in to words here.

*Pro-tip: look into each others eyes when you make love – you’ll immediately feel everything more deeply and it will heighten the experience and your bond.

Breathing in to Love
When we breathe deeply, we feel more. Our breath plays a huge part in how we feel moment to moment. Just by dropping in and focussing on our breath, we can slow down our heart rate and feel a sense of calm.

   Riding solo – take this time to really slow down and focus on your breath. Try taking long, slow and deep breaths in to your belly, allowing it to expand and fill up with fresh energy, and then let it all go with a sigh. Do this for at least a few minutes and observe how grounded and centred you feel afterwards. Check out my post on The Breathwork Ritual for more ideas here.

   Paired up – along with eye-gazing, intentional breathing with your partner can enhance your connection. Try sitting opposite each other with your hands on each others hearts, eyes open or closed, and gently sync up your breath. Another option is for one of you to sit in the other’s lap, with legs wrapped around their torso, foreheads touching and eyes closed as you simply breathe and feel in to each other’s energy fields. Again, this practice is best experienced than read about, so give it a go for yourself and see what happens. If you choose to, syncing up your breath during sex will heighten your pleasure and connect you both in a beautiful way, too.

Words of Affirmation
How often do you say kind things to yourself, or your partner? We often *think* these things, particularly about a partner, but we aren’t mind readers so they may not know how you really feel. One of the Five Love Languages is Words of Affirmation, and for some people hearing that their partner thinks they’re amazing signals to them that they are loved. I encourage you to take some time to share your favourite things about yourself, or your lover.

   Riding solo – show yourself some serious love by journaling about alllll the wonderful things about yourself. Better yet, say these aloud and to your reflection – this is SO powerful for your confidence and overall sense of self-love.

   Paired up – share with your partner five or ten (or more!) things you love about them, what you admire, why you’re grateful to have them in your life and anything else you want to share with your beloved.

Elemental Touch
We can’t possibly have a Valentine’s Ritual without touch, can we? But before you jump in to bed (or on the floor, the shower, the kitchen, the car….) try tuning in to the subtle energies and touching yourself or your partner with intention. In my teachings on self-love I speak a lot about the power of self-touch and self-massage to connect with yourself and show care for your physical body. We all have different ways we like to be touched – and I’m not talking about just sexually.

Elemental touch takes in to account the four elements of fire, earth, air and water and you’ll often find you resonate with one in particular (it may even match with your sun sign). It’s beautiful for you to experiment with touch on your own and it’s extra special to know exactly what type of touch your partner loves. Try them all out on yourself and with your lover and learn which you love and communicate which to steer clear of.

Fiery touch uses the fingernails to gently scratch the skin.

Earthy touch uses a firmer pressure and gets more in to the muscles.

Watery touch uses the fingertips to gently stroke the skin, in a fluid motion.

Airy touch is that barely there, very soft and subtle touch.

   Riding solo – give yourself a massage using coconut, almond or jojoba oil mixed with a few drops of essential oil using the type of touch that makes you feel amazing. Really honour yourself in this moment and show your body appreciation.

   Paired up – experiment with the above and learn which type of touch your partner likes and treat them to a massage. Better yet, incorporate this touch during love making and watch them completely melt..or shiver…or…. 😉

Make Love
Okayyyy, now you can get down to it! Whether you’re in for a self-pleasure session or you’re going to ravish and be ravished by your lover, if you use all the tips mentioned above, it’s sure to be a much more connected and intimate experience.

   Riding solo – in a future post, I’ll be sharing with you all about sacred sexuality and tools for pleasure, but in the meantime I highly suggest you invest in a jade egg and a crystal pleasure wand to heighten sensitivity both alone and when you’re getting down with a partner. Check the resources below for my suggestions of where to get some pleasure treasures for yourself.

   Paired up – I’m not going to tell you *how* to have sex, just to be as present as possible when you do. Presence is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself and your partner and will lead to heightened pleasure and connection for you both.

Stay intimate
Try not to let the night finish when you do, and instead take some time to bask in that afterglow and reconnect with yourself and your partner. Stay physically connected with touch – cuddles, kisses or a gentle hand on the heart will feel beautiful. Stay emotionally connected by perhaps reading some beautiful poetry – to yourself or your lover.

I hope you got a few juicy ideas to make your Valentine’s (and any day, frankly) the best one yet. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this ritual so please feel free to share with me below, by emailing me at hello@eleanorhadley.com or sending me a DM on insta – oh, and I don’t believe in TMI so you’re welcome to share away! 😆

Have a beautiful, love-filled day!

x

Resources:

Pleasure Treasures by Asti Maree

Sacred Sex & Divine Feminine products by La Loba Herbalism

‘anatomy’, poetry by Franks Martin

Heart Talk, poetry by Cleo Wade

The Valentines Ritual by Eleanor Hadley
The Valentines Ritual by Eleanor Hadley
The Valentines Ritual by Eleanor Hadley
The Valentines Ritual by Eleanor Hadley
The Valentines Ritual by Eleanor Hadley

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hi, I’m Eleanor

It is my mission to redefine modern day sensuality and what it means to be a sensual being.

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