The Upanishads, sacred texts that form the basis for Hindu philosophy and doctrine, were composed from 600 to 300 B.C. A collection of stories, hymns, metaphors, and dialogs, the focus or lessons of the Hindu texts are the concept of: an interior place, which is the source of being; enlightenment; and cosmic consciousness. The Upanishads teach that the divine resides in the cave of the heart, which is the great fulcrum of the universe where atman (spiritual self) meets brahman (holy power).
The Hindus also created the text, the Kama Sutra, which is more than a handbook; “it is a guide for keeping the principle of desire alive and balanced in the human heart and therefore the cosmos at large“ (Goodwin, 2001). Kama, one of the four goals of life, has to do with “the enhancement of pleasure, the enjoyment of the gifts of the earth, and close attention to things and people” (Goodwin).
Chakras, the Hindu mystical physiology of energy points in the body, are wheels of energy. Of the seven chakras, the fourth or heart chakra is called anhata. It is related to relationship, compassion, and balance. Anhata’s element is air; it’s symbolic animal is the gazelle. If one attains the heart chakra through the practice of yoga one can experience atman connecting with brahman.
The Chinese word for heart is xin and mind hsin are the same. Confucius taught that true knowledge lies in the heart and his teachings emphasized human-heartedness. The Chinese call the heart the king of all organs and "the thinking heart". The wisdom of the Tao states that a balance and order in the heart will influence all other senses. In Chinese medicine, the heart is the command center of consciousness and intelligence.
Confucius taught an ethical system that was heart-oriented. His concept of jen included the capacity to affirm others as you would want to be affirmed. If one attained chun tzu (humanity at its best) and li (right behavior), one had rightness of heart. "For Confucius, how people treated one another in this life took precedence over concerns of otherworldly things" (Goodwin, 2001).
After two and a half thousand years the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao-Tzu, is still being translated and read. Tao means "the way or path" or "the way in which one does something". Through wu wei (quietude) one may become in tune with the tao.
"Confucians work for balance… Taoists respect the dynamic imbalance, from yin to yang and back, as being the very essence of life – which you might as well get in harmony with, since you exist inside its melody" (Goodwin).
Chinese medicine is both philosophical and physiological with its holistic approach to the mental, emotional, behavioral, social, and spiritual aspects of the individual. Practitioners of Chinese medicine look for imbalance within each system and in the complex connections between the different body systems. Of the five systems, the heart is the most important. The yin (receptive) and yang (active) must be in balance for all aspects of health. Adjectives used to describe imbalance in heart energy include:
"The Italians have a musical notation not found in any other language: tempo gusto, 'the right tempo'. It means a steady, normal beat, between 66 and 77 on the metronome. Tempo gusto is the appropriate beat of the human heart."
Love charms, rituals, and magic objects were used by many societies to gain control over the heart and emotions of the desired person. Amulets, potions, or special words in the form of incantations or spells may also have been part of love magic or love medicine.
Both men and women in American Indian societies use love magic, which was most complicated in societies where the young men and women were separated. "In some societies, flute music was considered particularly seductive to women and so was widely used in courting. A special bird-bone whistle summoned a Flathead maiden to an evening tryst." (Niethammer, 1977)
Northern California coastal Pomo Indian girls would make a charm consisting of four white feathers and four hairs from the boy she admired. The charm would be hung high in a tree for the wind to blow. Apache girls sought the knowledge of special women who would cast a love spell using symbols of the sun, water, and the sacred butterfly. Zuni men would carry a fragment of a woman's clothing in their pocket or headband.
The Menominee people of the Great Lakes region create a male and female doll, each named after the husband and wife. These love dolls are made of wood and dressed in colorful beaded garments. They are tied together, facing each other, to ensure faithfulness. Pottawatomi Indians, also of the Great Lakes region, used dolls as charms to make one person fall in love with another.
Niethammer, C., Daughters of the Earth, Collier, New York, 1977
Heart symbolism is complex. J. C. Cooper writes about the heart as "The center of being; the divine presence at the center. The heart represents the 'central' wisdom of feeling as opposed to the head-wisdom of reason; both are intelligence, but the heart is also compassion; understanding; the 'secret place'; love; charity; it contains the life-blood".
Aonghua Og or Oengus – Celtic god of love; son of the Dagda, Lord of All Knowledge, and the river goddess Boann; four birds representing his kisses always hovered above his head; dwelled in the place of the Boyne named Bruigh na Boyne (the Boyne river in the east of Ireland, rises at Trinity Well, near Carbury, County Kildare); his golden harp was a symbol of the wind
Aphrodite – Greek goddess of love and desire; born from sea foam; daughter of Zeus and the nymph Dione; embodiment of charm, seduction, and sensuality; as an androgynous deity called Hermaphrodite when paired with Hermes, the male principle
Bastet – also known as Bast, Egyptian cat/woman goddess of pleasure and joy; guardian of marriage; daughter of the sun god Re; she was the mother and divine protector of all pharaohs; her attribute was a sacred rattle
Cupid – Roman god of love; send a Vulcan and Venus; depicted as a boy with wings; his gold tipped arrows caused people to fall in love; from the Latin cupido meaning desire and passion
Eros– Greek god of the power of sex and amorous desire; son of Aphrodite and Ares; sibling of Anteros, deity of unhappy love; lover of Psyche; his attributes are the dove, lyre Mussel shell, and swan
Freya – Northern European goddess of love and sex, her name means lady; one of the most promiscuous of the deities,; she drove a chariot pulled by two cats; twin sister of the Norse god, Frey; daughter of the sea god Njord and the goddess Skadi; wife of Od, a sun god
Ishtar – Assyro-Babylonian goddess of love; daughter of Sin and Ea; wife of Tammuz; in her aspect as evening star, deity of love and harlotry
Kama – Hindu god of love and voluptuousness; his name means desire; sprang from the heart of Brahma; his concerts were Rati, goddess of sexual desire and affection and Priti, goddess of pleasure; he carried a bow made of sugar cane strong with honeybees; his flower tipped arrows made people fall in love; his festival is Madonatsava; he is invoked by brides; when he angered Siva he was burned to ashes thus he became known as Ananga, meaning bodiless
Venus – Roman deity of gardens and spring, later goddess of love and beauty; mother of Aeneas; wife of Mars; daughter of Jupiter and Dione; called Ishtar by the Babylonians
Xochiquetzal – Aztec goddess of sexual love and fecundity; her name means "precious flower" or "beautiful rose"; women who were to become brides braided their hair to resemble Xochiquetzal to honor her; human sacrifice was part of the festival to celebrate her