valentine, pragma, WHITE HELMETS, ludus, pragma, GRAMEEN BANK, GIVE DIRECTLY, KIVA, storge,  PHILAUTIA, agape, C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, eros, greek love, greek words for love

The Ancient Greeks divided the word LOVE into seven spokes, each one individually unique yet working in tandem to strengthen the other in continuous motion. Within the wheel is the love for humanity (Agape), familial love (Storge), a love which endures (Pragma), self-love (Philautia), affectionate love (Philia), playful love (Ludus) and erotic love (Eros).

When I was a kid, we celebrated valentine's day as a family. A house full of girls sharing love for one another with handmade cards, pink and red craft projects, and organic chocolates. As an adult, in the years I was single on Valentine's Day, I would treat myself to some sort of spa-esque experience, gather my pals around and fill any perceived loneliness with the joyous company of friends. In the years I had a boyfriend, we would buy each other expensive gifts, then get dressed up and go out for dinner just like the rest of those in 'love' did.

My first year married, my husband showed no interest in Valentine's Day exploits, "celebrating love is an everyday affair", was the gist of how he felt about it. Despite me agreeing with his logic, a childlike disappointment must have come through, so the next year he dragged a bathtub up that he found on the street, bought miles of tubing, and filled it up on our balcony so we could bathe under the stars while we ate fondue gluttonously. It was the single most romantic thing that I'd ever experienced, and in that moment I realized, we as a society had gotten the celebration of love all wrong.

If we're going to celebrate Valentine's day at all, we ought to give love to each kind of love, learning how to harness each one individually and for our loved ones, allowing each form to guide us into a greater state of wisdom and awareness. If we're going to buy gifts, then they ought to be made lovingly, useful things that will create positive experiences for those we love, beyond this particular day. So, I stayed up last night gathering some ideas (and quotes) of simple, inexpensive gifts or donations that fit each type of ancient love.

Pragma is the love this world is lacking, it's the love that has developed over time through effort and compromise on both sides, demonstrating the patience and tolerance that allow relationships to continuously flower. You find Pragma in married couples who have been together for countless years and found harmony, and friendships which have lasted decades.

"What is to give light must endure burning." 
This is flirtation at its finest, the first stages of falling in love. It's the fun and playful honeymoon stage often lost in long-term relationships, said to be one of the key elements to keeping love exciting and alive.

“Was that semi-colon some kind of flirty wink or just bad punctuation?”

This is the love shared through kindship and familiarity, It's that natural form of deep affection which flows between parents and their children, whether it be your human babies or fur babies, and back again. It's unconditional, and often times, indescribable.

"... your ego melts away when you have a new kid. Your heart kind of leaves your body and you give it permission to walk around with someone else for a while. "

Representative of sexual passion and desire, this type of erotic love is named after the Greek god of love and fertility. For the spiritually mature, the destructive energy this love carries can be harnessed and transformed into one which brings connection and closeness through Tantra and other forms of spiritual sex. For those less developed, it can be abusive to self and other, a simple animalistic response void of consciousness, led instead by impulse and self-indulgence. It's the type of love that burns out quickly unless other forms of love exist along with it to fan the fire eros burns to keep it to a smouldering simmer.

“Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.” 

Philia is the love found in friendships, it's that sense of deep comradery, considered to be a love between equals, built through feelings of deep respect and loyalty, feelings created through shared experiences and emotions.

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."

Self-love, which is very much related to self-care, has become an industry in of itself in recent years ... which is both a plus and a minus for the human race. A plus, as many people have come to understand that in order to care for others, one must first learn to care for oneself. A minus because many of those people profiting from the industry have allowed a sort of narcissistic self-care / self-love focused on personal fame and self-obsession creep into their realms. Giving yourself little 15-minute intervals throughout the day or week to meditate, exercise, stretch, read, treat yourself to tiny spa treatments, or ensure you get a good night's sleep, are simple ways to recharge your self-love batteries.

“All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” 
Agape, is to love unconditionally, benevolent boundless compassion strengthened by infinite empathy. It's the universal loving kindness we associate with Saints and our Gods / Goddesses. It's the purest form of spiritual love, a love bigger than ourselves, free of desire or expectation.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
- Rumi

valentine, pragma, WHITE HELMETS, ludus, pragma, GRAMEEN BANK, GIVE DIRECTLY, KIVA, storge,  PHILAUTIA, agape, C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, eros, greek love, greek words for love

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash