For ages, writers, artists and creators of all mediums have tackled that impossible question. Wondering, what is love and, more importantly, can love be controlled? Could it be possible to create love? Is there an elixir that inspires it?
In honor of Valentine’s Day, BOM presents this month’s mythical item – the love potion.
WHAT IS IT?
Exactly as it sounds, a love potion is concoction created solely to make the drinker fall in love. Sometimes it’s the first person they see after consumption; other times it’s a specific person. While each story differs on ingredients, (some stories call for flora while others require bodily fluids, and some are involve some gross ingredients) the effect is always the same.
But a love potion doesn’t always equal a happy ending – in fact many stories use the lovely drink to point out how love is not to be taken lightly. In Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the character Titania is splashed with a love potion and finds herself forced to be in love with someone she doesn’t like.
No story can agree on how to negate the effects of a love potion – some call for true love’s kiss to break the spell, others tell the need for magic (either a fairy’s wand or a wish upon a star), and some even have the character under the spell breaking it through sheer force of will.
The origin of the love potion is a mystery, appearing as early as Greek Mythology with Aphrodite (and probably before that) yet has been seen in every inch of the world, from Zimbabwe to England to Shanghai. Century after century, love potions have been found in nearly every culture in one form or another. From Shakespeare to Confucius to the Harry Potter world (Amortentia), magic potions causing love have been plot devices for as long as there have been people listening to stories.
Love potions appear in television, movies, books and all other forms of media. Take this Sandra Bullock movie from 1992:
The central plot of the film is two scientists stumbling onto a creation that causes people to fall in love. But that rom-com isn’t the only place the potions appear. Every story with a witch has them: the magical world of Harry Potter makes casual mention of love potions and Practical Magic (Sandra Bullock again!) character Sally finds attraction in her first husband after a potion is made.
Countless books utilize love potion and videos games ranging from Skyrim to Final Fantasy feature the drink. Even beloved 90’s show Hey Arnold made use of the love potion trope with Helga drinking grape soda hoping it would stop her from loving the football-headed preteen.
Since the love potion has been around since the dawn of time, it’s easy for writers to dread coming up with something new. But fear not – where there’s a creative will there’s a creative way.
Consider ingredients – is it a mix of flowers, moonlight and bodily fluids that makes the potion? Or more abstract items like a mother’s hug?
And what about consumption? Drinking a potion is overdone; maybe the potion is a pill taken suppository – love isn’t always pretty. How long does the potion last? A night, a month, a year, a lifetime?
Get into the nitty gritty of creating love! Now, before you comment, drink up this special brew I’ve made just for you.