The 14th of February is St. Valentine's Day. It commemorates two early Italian saints and also is dedicated to sweethearts everywhere, who, on that day, are supposed to give tokens of their affection, usually shaped as hearts.

And so, today, almost everyone wishes to be someone's valentine and to receive at least one of those tokens. And it wouldn't matter whether the heart was made of gold or crystal; whether chocolate candy, or a card in the shape of a heart. It wouldn't matter whether it was presented timorously, or tremulously, or in a way that was bold and daring, as long as it represented someone's love and caring.

Some people could say that all this romantic fuss is for the birds, and, unfortunately, they wouldn't be far off the mark since, unbeknownst to many, Feb. 15 is frequently mentioned as the day for the mating of the birds (Oxford Dictionary, third edition). But, of course, only cynics would speak about such things today.

Plant Venus, which rules love and relationships, is presiding over St. Valentine's Day and casts more benevolent rays today than it did a few days ago. Venus was retrogade since the beginning of this year and turned direct only this past Wednesday; therefore, if there were "snags" in relationships (and there probably were many), the time is now propituous to smooth them out.

Planet Mercury also became cooperative by turning direct yesterday, after three weeks of retrograde motion; so all those lost messages and love letters, including valentines, will probably turn up in the mail tomorrow.

But this idyllic state of heavenly affairs lasts only until this Saturday, because on Feb. 20, at 7:03 p.m. EST, Mars, the planet of war and of passion, turns retrograde, and will not turn-direct until May 11, at 2:25 p.m. EST.

This is a very unhappy and restrictive turn of events for lovers to be, and the Heavens really have conspired against them this year because there is a dictum in astrology that one should never begin a war or a love affair under retrograde Mars, because it will accomplish nothing and end in disaster.

This warning does not apply to all those loving couples who have consumed their chocolate hearts already. But all those lovers-to-be who have been yearning, wishing, pitting and hoping have only until Saturday to make the decision; and if they decide to consumate their relationship after 7:03 p.m. EST, they are flinging wide open their "window of vulnerability" and are dooming the relationship.

And so, if they want this relationship to last, they will have to resist temptation, using all of their resolve and willpower until May 11. And it would be unfair of them to suspect that either the Moral Majority or Sen. Denton had a finger in altering the path of heavenly bodies, because this aspect of Mars retrograde always lasts about 2 1/2 months, and repeats itself about every 2 1/2 years.

It would be good if they could remember that one should not be tempted to thwart Mars retrograde. When this aspect was in force, Napoeleon invaded Russia, and President Johnson -- Vietnam. We all know how those invasions ended. Mars retrograde has the same ending in store for all of those who bring their love affairs under its malevolent rays.

At the same time, for all of those people who do not wish for any permanency of their relationship, then this is the time to proceed -- which only proves that any negative aspect of any planet has its positive side for someone.

Astrological postscript.

There is also a dictum in astrology that one should avoid, if possible, any surgical intervention during the time of retrograde Mars. And so, if any of my readers are thinking of some elective surgery, and their physicians says that it could be safely postponed, then it would be better to do it after Mars turns direct on May 11 or to proceed with it during this coming week.