Love, and Other Four Letter Words

Consider the following:

I Love Booze

I Love Porn

I Love the New Chicken McGriddle, available for a short time at participating McDonalds.

Oh, by the way, I Love You, Too, Baby.

Or, perhaps you might prefer this:

I Love Long Moonlit Strolls on the Beach

I Love the Ballet

I Love the New Chicken McGriddle, available for a short time at participating McDonalds.

Oh, by the way, I Love You, too. You’re my Bestie!

Hopefully, you can see the problem here – it’s one of language, that beautiful thought virus that makes us oh-so-human.

However, not every culture has suffered from this lack of nuance. It’s a particular sin of the English language – the defacto lingua franca of the world (all apologies to Mandarin).

The Greeks, for instance, did not suffer from the vague word “Love”; instead, they had (at least) eight different words for love, each with a different shade of meaning:


Now, for a beautiful, concise definition of the first four, I highly recommend a book by C.S. Lewis (yes, Narnia C.S. Lewis), entitled The Four Loves.  While Lewis is a Christian apologist, which might seem at odds with the Pagan sensibilities that run through MythCrafts, his book is a quick and meaningful examination of Agape, Philia, Eros and Storgia.

I’m only mentioning this as a useful aside for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the first four kinds of love.

Let’s take a look all eight ourselves:


This is “turn the other cheek” love; this is universal love. This is Buddhist compassion. This is also, clearly, the hardest form of love to practice, because it demands putting the universal over the self; it demands seeing everyone’s suffering as if it were one’s own.

If you can pull this one off, drop me a line. I’ll join your church, temple, mosque, gathering or cult for at least a day.

Probably just for a day, if I can even make it that long; I’m far too much into Philautia, but more on that later.


This is friendship, plain and simple. It’s a bond that is ephemeral; it’s beyond the Erotic (cumming up next… boom tish!), and it’s worth noting that if you consider yourself a philosopher (please don’t – the market’s too crowded as it is!), you are a Friend of Sophia, Wisdom (Philia + Sophia = Philosophy)


And one by one, the seven veils dropped.

A furtive glance, a passing caress.

Skin on skin, dripping sweat.

It’s there in the Song of Songs. From Solomon to the Kama Sutra, the Book of Desire.


We’ve all sung, and heard, the Siren‘s song…

That, my friends, is Eros –

from gentle, flickering light,

to blinding white heat.


Okay, we’ve covered strangers (Agape), friends (Philia), and lovers (Eros).

What do we do with family?

You know, those people we love, but don’t necessarily like? But yes, we still love them…

That is Storgia for you.

If it wasn’t for Storgia (and Eros as well), the entire counseling profession would collapse on itself.

For the love of LMFTs everywhere, let’s keep getting this one wrong!


So those are the four kinds of love the C.S. Lewis addresses; here are a few others, also from the Greeks:


Somewhere between Eros and Philia lies Ludus; it’s playful, it’s flirty, it’s dirty, and it’s uncommitted. Good for some, awful for others, but it is a real place that people play, and it can be a long-term kind of love.

Good luck with the Ludus.

Key parties where never my thing…but to each their own.


This is how Vulcans do it, as in Star Trek Vulcans. It’s also how many cultures operated, and still do; it’s how arranged marriages work(ed). It’s how kings and queens and the Housewives of (Insert City Here) function.

Is it love?

Probably not the kind most of us are looking for. It certainly isn’t the kind of love that the troubadours sang about.

But hey, they didn’t get their own reality T.V. shows, did they?


When you’re your own best friend, you know Philautia (Phil as in Philia, + autia, as in self).

In excess, Philautia leads to Hubris (which, according to the Greeks, brings the Nemesis, the destroying Enemy)

In absentia, without Philautia, a person becomes an unwitting slave, easily controlled by others, subject to the will(s) of people who would use, and/or abuse them.

Always aim for the middle path. It hurts the least.


Koinonia is like Philia, only extended to an inner circle.

This is how Jesus loved his closest disciples; it’s the idea of a band of brothers (and/or sisters), a tight kinship.

Think the Fellowship of the Rings, or the Knights of King Arthur’s Round Table (barring the times that Lancelot was entangled in Eros with Guinevere).

Think Kirk, Bones and Spock onboard the Enterprise.

Or maybe Luke, Han and Leia on the Falcon (which has elements of Storgia, Philia and Eros built-in).

Think the Last Supper (minus Judas, unless you prefer the version offered in the Gnostic Gospel of Judas)

That is Koinonia.


So, what’s the takeaway?

Be kind to strangers. Never forget your friends.

Love your beloved. And don’t forget your family.

Understand both the power – and the inherent risks – of flirting.

Never think of, or use, people as objects.

Love yourself, but never to the exclusion of others.

Hold your circle tight.

And please, for the love of the Gods…

Never say you Love the New Chicken McGriddle –

(Now available for a short time at participating McDonalds!)



Some of you might be upset that I titled this article Love, and Other Four-Letter Words, without addressing any other four-letter words.

Therefore, I am including this link to the brilliant Reggie Watts, and his song,

Fuck Shit Stack:

Reggie Watts – Fuck Shit Stack

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