Powering Down and the Octogram of Love

The weekly poem and blog is very late this week. Blame it on Storm Barra. Since Monday we have had intermittant power outages, some as long as ten hours or more. We have an electric power shower and I was feeling full of gratitude this morning for hot water without the fear of a sudden drench of cold water. At one point we were out of power (and wifi goes with it), landline and no service on the mobile. But we live in the country. We adapt. We have a log burner. We have a bottled gas cooker. A You Tube hack that says tea lights on a metal pie plate with a terracotta flower pot over them will generate heat – it works! So what I have been experiencing most of all this week is gratitude. Also, we had a lot of strings of battery powered Christmas lights on hand…

In our Sunday “Writing the Light in the Season of Darkness” we had a prompt using the Octogram of Love. From this I raised what the ancient Greeks defined as the eight varieties of love: eros (sexual passion), philia (deep friendship), ludos (playful love), agape (love for everyone), pragma ( longstanding love), philautia (love of self), storge (family love) and mania (obsessive love). We had a lively debate on the limits of this definition. Where is love of the natural world? Where is the line between self-love and nacisissm? And is romantic love a purely modern addition, because it is not just sexual passion or obsession argued one of the participants.

One of the revelations of the power outages was my intense gratitude for powering down. We kept indoors with our tribe of fur persons. We managed to keep warm and well fed. I read a novel by head torch. I cooked soup and stew on the gas hob. There was no background electric hum of appliances. There was no news except that brought by the wind howling and the rain lashing. We were a safe island in the chaos of Storm Barra.

But I am, of course, very grateful to be able to connect with the world again. I am grateful for clean hair and the blow drier. But what I realised was that ‘powering down’ for a couple of days is an exercise in love of self. I needed to unplug from ‘stuff’ a bit more, that nervy background humming of electronic devices and anxiety inducing world news. Actually, even as the wind howls and rain pours if we hunker down in the silence, we are okay. And, I feel recharged. Or, perhaps more accurately, more centred.

The Weekly Poem is one that came out of my recent Saturday Zoom session with wintering out Word Alchemists. In a way, I hope it redresses the lack of a catagory for nature love in the octogram of love.

Wreath

Tis the season to deck halls and wreath
our homes and hearth with mirth, the keeps with peace.

Tis the season to circle with a wide smile,
to not let the holly prickle, not even a little.

Tis the season to let fir boughs wave and tickle
everybody's joy bone, to chuckle and even cackle.

Tis the season to crown with lit candles,
to St. Lucy's parade, for the empty manger cradle.

Tis the season to pause, to watch the dark beneath,
to circle together, as we each weave a wreath.

And yes, those strings of battery Christmas lights were wound around wreaths this past couple of days and illuminated the perpetual dusk of our midwinter gloom.

Featured Image Photo by Sebastian Fröhlich on Unsplash

Weekly Poem: Of Octograms, Anchors and Hope

The first Zoom of the “Writing the Light in the Season of Darkness” sessions began this past Sunday. It coincided with the first day of the eight day Jewish holiday Hanukkah and the first Sunday of Christian Advent. I was looking at stars, (being bodies of light) and stumbled upon the Octogram, an eight pointed star that seems to have worked its way into just about every religious (and secular) tradition you could imagine. It figures into Goddess spirituality as the Star of Ishtar and Hinduism as the Star of Lakshmi. It appears in Judeo-Christiantradition as the Star of the Magi and kabbalah, and symbolises Islam in the character Rub el Hizb. Buddhists use it to represent the Eightfold Path of the Buddha. Michael Moorcock designated it the Chaos Star and I found an obscure reference to it as The Warrior Star. But to Native Americans an octogram signifies Hope. And hope was the theme for our writing prompts this past Sunday.

Coincidentally, there are eight women who signed on for this Zoom workshop, too! So athe group is also an octogram.

We started with some of the usual symbols of hope as prompts: anchors, rainbows, birch trees, butterflies, as well as that old Emily Dickinson chestnut “Hope…that thing with feathers…” (There was some rebellion in the Zoom Room as a few took exception with Emily, especially since one of our number had just been nipped by her parrot!)

I played around with a few things but what challenged me was that phrase “Warrior Star” and how it connects to Hope. Mostly because I resisted the idea of yoking hope and warrior…but poety is the path of surprise and this is where it led me.

Maybe Hope

Maybe hope is what keeps you fighting your corner...
Maybe hope is the courage that anchors...
Maybe hope is what never shall be moved...
Maybe hope is the motor of survival...
Maybe hope is the highest stake against high roller odds...
Maybe hope is the adreneline rush  with the pay off...
Maybe hope is the warrior that wears wings...

What is hope to you? An anchor, a butterfly, a rainbow, a thing with feathers, a tree? Can you write eight things, people or events that fill you with hope? Light a candle to them.

Featured image this week is Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash