From the Latin word lupus, meaning “wolf,” the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia was celebrated between February 13 and 15. Priests of the god Lupercus (sometimes identified with the ancient Greek god Pan) would meet each year in the Lupercal Cave, where they would perform certain sacrifices.
The cave is mentioned in the story of Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome. Accordingly, Rhea Silvia — a Vestal Virgin (i.e., priestess of the goddess Vesta) — became pregnant with the twin boys, thus evidencing that she had broken her vow to chastity. She had been forced to become a priestess of Vesta by her uncle Amulius when he became king of Alba Longa.
Rhea claimed that Mars, the god of war, was the father of the twin boys. Fearing that if he executed her and her children then Mars would take his revenge, Amulius had the priestess imprisoned and ordered the babies exposed to the elements, to die. The servant ordered to dispose of Romulus and Remus took pity on them. Disobeying the king, he put them in a basket, and floated them down the river Tiber. The basket eventually became entangled in the roots of a fig tree in the Velabrum swamp, and the babies were discovered and suckled by the she-wolf Lupa.
The festival of Lupercalia was supposed to drive out evil spirits, purify the town, and encourage fertility.
According to Zeena and Nikolas Schreck (authors, artists, and occultists), in their Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left-Hand Path Sex Magic,
During the Lupercalia, the practically naked boys and young men of the town were given license to roam the streets dressed in wolf skins (alternately goat skins, in some regions of the empire), brandishing leather straps. Essentially, the celebrants took on the predatory nature of the wolf, hunting the girls of the town, who had to submit by exposing their flesh to be flagellated by the leather thongs.
The male participants in this rite appear to have whipped both sexes. However, the act of whipping was supposed to encourage fertility in the victim (who wanted to become pregnant).