New Moon Gateway: The Alchemy of Hope and Rage

For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary

This February 9th the new moon arrives to remind us that renewal is possible (exact at 5:59pm ET, time zone converter ). In the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve just been through the longer solar cycle’s renewal at Winter Solstice. The later arrival of sunset is more and more noticeable each day.

The light is not yet abundant but it is growing and so appropriate that The Star (because of its correspondence with the new moon in Aquarius) is this moonth’s path card to guide us into lengthening days and toward the springtime. In the progression of the Tarot’s Major Arcana, the Star’s  peaceful image comes after the upheaval and challenge of Death, the Devil, and the Tower. The gentle light of the Star offers a place to rest and receive the gift of the cosmos’ gentle light.

In Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot, The Star is the Greek Goddess Persephone who with her mother, the Goddess Demeter, initiates seekers into a revelation about how Life and Death are connected to, not separated from, each other.

When Persephone is abducted by Hades, the God of the Underworld, Demeter overcomes obstacles to bring her daughter back to the land of living. Because Persephone has eaten pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, she must return for part of each year to reign as Queen of the Dead. But Persephone’s annual return brings joy to Demeter, which ignites the growth of seeds of grain buried in the ground.

In even this barest retelling of Persephone and Demeter’s story, we see Life and Death flowing in and out and around each other to become the renewal of the seasons, life on earth, and the connection between generations.

Entering into the details and deviations that come from a millenia-old myth and the sacred art it has inspired brings new layers of wisdom. This is what I encountered in 2022 as I read the beautiful Hymn to Demeter (Apostolos N. Athanassakis’ translation from the 2nd edition of The Homeric Hymns: Johns Hopkins University Press; 2004) as preparation for the Greek pilgrimage we did that year. The words of the Hymn opened my eyes to new wisdom in the Shining Tribe’s Star card.

In the card image Persephone stands in bright light. The door to the Underworld is behind her. She pours out revivifying waters to help her mother’s grain grow. The water represents a literal need for life-giving food, and its two streams also invite meaning-making with our symbolic eyes. Meditating on the image with the words of the Hymn to Demeter in my heart and mind, I find a stream of Hope and a stream of Rage are needed to bring the renewal of the myth—and in our lives today. 

 The Stream of Hope

Persephone is gathering flowers and as she reaches for a narcissus, Hades springs forth from the Underground in his chariot to capture the young Goddess. She cries out but no one hears her except the ancient Goddess Hekate who lives apart in a cave. No one sees her abduction, but the Sun God Helios who is high in the sky.

Hades’ chariot seems to be moving at such speed that they all rise up into the sky. As she is captured Persephone looks from a new vantage point at her world.

So while [Persephone] looked upon the earth and the starry sky
and upon the swift-flowing sea teeming with fish
and the rays of the sun and still hoped to see
her loving mother and the races of gods immortal,
hope charmed her mind, despite her grief

~ lines 33-37 from the Hymn to Demeter

In this terrible moment, Persephone is touched by a vision of earth, sea, and sky; she connects to her mother’s love; and though she grieves, she lets herself be charmed by hope.

She is a model for us in our times of deep distress. She shows us that even while we are grieving, we can hold onto visions of possibility. We can find solace in the natural world. We can remember the love that exists in our lives. These inspirations do not displace the grief, but exist alongside it. The light of these inspirations can be quietly working to renew us, even before we are aware of the healing underway.

The Stream of Rage

Although she does not know it during her long days in the Underworld, Persephone’s hope is justified. And her faith in her mother’s love is well placed. Because in the Upperworld, Demeter is determined to rescue her child.

Demeter senses immediately that something is wrong, but no one can tell her what has happened to her child. She is distraught, stops eating and bathing. Finally she encounters Hekate who tells her she heard Persephone’s cry and advises her to consult Helios.

Helios tells her the whole story. Not only has Persephone been taken by Hades to the Underworld, but Zeus—Persephone’s own father and Demeter’s brother—gave her to Hades (Demeter’s brother, too!). She confronts Zeus but is rebuffed so with a “pain more awful and savage” Demeter leaves the home of the gods in Olympus to dwell among humans.

At first Demeter is not herself; her divine power is hidden by her grief. Among the humans, she serves as a nursemaid to a royal family. It seems almost as if she has forgotten her true purpose, but, no, we eventually see she is just gathering herself together. A spark of anger when she is thwarted in making the child she cares for immortal returns her to her rescue of Persephone.

The spark of anger seems to be the catalyst for Demeter’s greater rage to emerge. Her betraying brother gods and the other Olympians who did nothing to stop them will be made to suffer.

… (Demeter) is plotting
greatly to destroy the feeble races of earth-born men.
The seed will be hidden under the earth and the immortals will lose
their honors. Her anger is dreadful, and she does not mingle
with the gods, but apart from them in a fragrant temple
she sits, dwelling in the rocky town of Eleusis

~ lines 351-356 from the Hymn to Demeter

Humans suffer because of Demeter’s rage but in truth her targets are the gods. If deprived of offerings the humans make to them, their power will wither.

Zeus finally understands the situation is dire and sends the messenger God Hermes to negotiate with Hades for Persephone’s return.

Before we rush along to Persephone’s rescue, let’s pause to contemplate Demeter’s rage and what it can offer us for understanding rage in our own times.

Demeter’s is the rage of a mother against a system that has consigned her child to death. Zeus, both as ruler and as father, has abused his power, conspired with Hades, and decided Persephone’s fate. In some tellings of the tale, he dismisses Demeter’s first approach by ignoring her distress and instead tells her that it is a good match. Really, she should be happy.

Today, we seethe along with the Goddess and as we do can also see in the current rage of those struggling to protect life and against war, famine, sickness, and violence in a fuller light.

Activists for justice and the earth are often criticized for being too disruptive, too extreme, too impatient. They are counseled to work within the system, be pragmatic, accept incremental change. But looking through the lens of Demeter’s story we see rage has a role to play in prodding the system that would rather maintain the status quo toward change.

While not all activism has to take the same form—Hermes, the messenger shows us the need for intermediaries who can work with the approaches of different groups—respect for and inclusion at the table of those who are fired by sacred rage is necessary. (The Wiccan teacher and earth activist Starhawk talks about a need for an ecology of activism.) Afterall, it is only Demeter’s rage flowing out from the love of her child that moves Zeus to right his wrong. Demeter might well be the first non-violent direct activist.


Hermes is successful in his task of retrieving Persephone. Together they ride Hades’ horses out of the Underworld. Soon Demeter is embracing her child, but as she does, she senses something is not right; there has been some trickery. She asks Persephone if she has eaten anything. Persephone replies that she ate the pomegranate seeds Hades forced upon her in the Underworld.

Demeter knows that her daughter now has an unbreakable connection to the Underworld. In the Homeric Hymn, Persephone must return to spend a third of the year in the Underworld.

Persephone returns but she returns changed. Her and her mother’s life do not go back to “normal.” New awareness and roles must be integrated into both their lives. Persephone does not forget her connection to Death but rather Death becomes part of her life.

Renewal: The Alchemy of Hope and Rage

As I was contemplating the streams of renewing waters in the Shining Tribe Star card, I hesitated over the rage stream. In the United States as a society, we seem to be enraged about most everything from the redesign of candy packaging to mask wearing to the dismantling of our democracy. All of these issues are not of equal importance, though sometimes it’s hard to tell from the rage that ricochets around social media poisoning public discourse and at times exploding into violence in the real world.

Rage on its own is dangerous. Rage must be mixed with the expansive, love-seeded hope of Persephone.

Persephone’s hope comes from seeing the whole of the cosmos and from feeling a connection to earth, sea, and sky. Persephone shows us hope that is inclusive and that is beyond a singular focus on the self.

Persephone’s hope gives a direction to Demeter’s rage that is oriented toward the Whole. Love is then the agent that mixes the two together. Persephone trusts in her mother’s love and Demeter’s love for her daughter is at the root of the rage that moves her to action.

When Persephone’s hope and Demeter’s rage combine to re-unite them their love for each other then spills over into a life-giving force serving more than themselves. Persephone’s return catalyzes Demeter to once again cause the grain to grow and all of the earth to blossom. Demeter then teaches humans to grow the grain on their own. She shares her power with humanity.

The alchemy of hope and rage renews because it expands power, flows with love, and serves life. The call of the Star path is to become practitioners of this renewal.

Seven of Swords Passage and Practice

On the Star path we are passing through the days of the 7 of Swords. In the iconic Rider Waite Smith deck, we seem a figure tip toeing away with hands full of Swords and watching their back. Their strategy has worked and they seem to be getting away with the goods.

a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley and retrieved from Sacred Texts. Deck available from US Games

This card of the trickster may remind us of the tale told above of Hades keeping a hold of Persephone by feeding her the pomegranate seeds. As such, this card reminds us that there are people who will attempt to trick us to get what they want. As Swords is in the realm of air connecting us to the mind and communication, we might be on the look out during this moonth for those people who are saying one thing but are doing or believing another.

But Hades is not the only possible figure represented in this card. We might find this image represents Persephone herself.

In some versions of Persephone’s story—my understanding is that they are modern versions—the Goddess either leaves willing with Hades or chooses on her own to spend time in the Underworld. She sees that the dead need someone to comfort them. She elects to be their Queen. She knows she can not just return to life with her mother as it was before. She is no longer innocent.

Perhaps then She knows something is up when offered the seeds and eats them to be able to give this reason to her mother for going back and forth between the worlds. Perhaps She knows it would break her mother’s already grieving heart to know that her daugther is moving away from her.

This possible trickery on the part of Persephone then leads to her attentions being divided between the worlds of the Living and the Dead. This division, however, becomes expansive rather than limiting. Persephone’s love for her mother calls he back to the living world. While those she serves in the Underworld connect her to Death. She invites us, too, to practice tending a loving flow between the living and the dead

Be a Knight of Cups on The Star Path

Our model this moonth for walking the path of the Star is the Knight of Cups.

Knight of Cups from the Massachusetts Tarot Society Deck

All Knights are on a quest to serve the Greater Than themselves. How the Knights serve is inspired by their elemental association. The Knights of Cups’ association with Water calls them to lead with their heart. They care for those they love and they also care for those they don’t know because water flows all over the earth ignoring boundaries.

They use tools of the heart on their quest. Knights of Cups are the ones who nurture and show compassion in groups, offer hospitality to all, and create openings for feelings to be felt and expressed. They might even use poetry as way to lobby their congresspeople

Yes, they dare to care and believe that their caring can make a difference for creating the world we want to live in.

Reading of the Moonth 

HOPE: What expansive hope is most beneficial to nurture within me now?

RAGE: How can I work with my grief/anger so that its energy moves me toward making my hope real?

ALCHEMY: When my hope and rage combine what can be renewed for myself and the Whole? 

I do offer this as an e-reading in my collaborative initiative format for $32.  Sign up with Pay Pal or email me about sending a check. When I receive notification, I’ll be in touch to let you know about when to expect to receive your reading by email. I generally have openings to do these readings on Mondays and Saturdays


Valentine’s Day Action With Poetry From Broken Hearts Open to Gaza

Justice – Poetry

This first version is general/for anyone. If you live in Congressional District 1, scroll down to see a targeted message for Representative Richard Neal. 

Call your representative (contact info here) around Valentine’s Day. (Skipping the Senate right now because they just voted on a bill.) This action will take only a few minutes. If you are feeling shy, you could even do it at night on the 14th and leave a message


I’m [name] from [town]. [If you identify as a poet, you can also say And I am a poet.

This Valentine’s Day my heart is broken seeing what is happening in Gaza. Gazan poets are keeping my broken heart open. I want to share a few lines from [pick from one of the three options below]

I urge you to call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and oppose any legislation that sends our tax dollars to fund violence against the innocent people of Gaza. Also funding for UNRWA must be reinstated; they are the only organization with the infrastructure to address the catastrophe of displacement and famine facing the 2 million people of Gaza.

Three poetry options 

#1: from Hiba Abu Nada, killed in an Israeli airstrike on October 20th 

I grant you refuge
from hurt and suffering.

With words of sacred scripture
I shield the oranges from the sting of phosphorous
and the shades of cloud from the smog.

I grant you refuge in knowing
that the dust will clear,
and they who fell in love and died together
will one day laugh.


#2: from  Saleem Al-Naffar, who was buried under the rubble on December 7th 

 Knives might eat
what remains of my ribs,
machines might smash
what remains of stones,
but life is coming,
for that is its way,
creating life even for us.


#3: from Mosab Abu Toha, who is in exile in Egypt worried every day about his family in Gaza 

Every child in Gaza is me. Every mother and father is me. Every house is my heart. Every tree is my leg. Every plant is my arm. Every flower is my eye. Every whole in the earth is my wound


  • These general calls are inspired by some of the more targeted actions of Jewish Voice for Peace that I have been active with. You can get involved with them to get the latest, sharpest calls for action. There is also a Ceasefire Tracker so you can see what your legislators have done—or not done. Every time I look a new person has been added.
  • This poetry action is inspired by a justice and accessibility activist who saw my original post on Poet Solidarity and told me that they made their calls to congress at night and shared poetry along with their message. 
  • Let me know how it goes. 
  • And just to state here what I have written about and said in other places, I absolutely condemn the Hamas attacks on October 7th and my heart too is broken open for those killed, those who experienced sexual violence, those who witnessed the horrors of that day, and their families. My actions to end this war are focused on the US government because I have no leverage over Hamas or Iran, the power behind it.

Targeted Message for Representative Neal of Massachusetts Congressional District 1

Call the Springfield (413-785-0325) and/or DC (202-225-560) offices. This action will take only a few minutes. If you are feeling shy, you could even do it at night on the 14th and leave a message


I’m [name] from [town]. [If you identify as a poet, you can also say And I am a poet.

This Valentine’s Day my heart is broken seeing what is happening in Gaza. Gazan poets are keeping my broken heart open. I want to share a few lines from [pick from one of the three options you can see above in the general post]

I appreciate Rep Neal voting against the stand alone bill for military aid to Israel on February 7 and call on him to continue opposing sending our tax dollars to fund violence against the innocent people of Gaza. Also funding for UNRWA must be reinstated; they are the only organization with the infrastructure to address the catastrophe of displacement and famine facing the 2 million people of Gaza. I urge you to make a statement calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. 

Please pass this message on to both Rep. Neal and to Chris Cozzaglio in the Pittsfield Office. 


Full Moon Revelations: Strength to look into the mouth of The Devil

For Seekers – Moonthly Renewal – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Sanctuary

The height of this moonth’s cycle comes with the full moon arriving on Thursday, January 25th (exact at 12:54pm, time zone converter), and offers a revelation about how the lunar energies initiated on the January 11th new moon are developing. The new moon, guided by its association with The Devil, 4 of Pentacles, and King of Swords, invited us to protect what is most important. Out of a full moon revelation about this developing energy, we are issued an invitation to return a gift to the world in the final weeks of the lunar cycle.  

The astro-Tarot correspondences align this full moon with Strength.  

At the top of many Strength images are two equal-sized and connected ellipses known as the lemniscate, a symbol for infinity. This abstract symbol that comes to us from mathematics is embodied in figures below it: traditionally a woman and often a lion, though snakes and bears also appear. All of these animals are fierce. They are animals that stir up our primal fears. The lemniscate guides us into relationship with them.

a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley and retrieved from Sacred Texts. Deck available from US Games

These animals of Strength are so very like The Devil that this lunar alignment has me imagining the woman holding open the Devil’s mouth, which strikes me as quite an intimate act.

A message flowing from this full moon is that we have the Strength we need to be intimate with the Devil.

At the new moon, I wrote about the Devil as the shadow parts we—as individuals, communities, and societies—have difficulty accepting, both the negative and the positive. These are parts that we want to push away.

But at this full moon we are invited to consider what it would be like to instead of pushing away, we embrace these rejected parts of ourselves. Imagine taking our Devil parts into our arms to be soothed. 

Soothing is not placating or giving into the symptomatic acting out of this bedeviled part. Soothing is accepting what is. Then listening into the source of need or pain and holding that with compassion.

Compassion can bring the calm and from the calm can flow the true desire that was unmet and so brought forth the Devil. That need for a drink or a drug could be the desire for connection to the Divine, for ecstasy. That scrolling through social media could be your longing for community. Fighting against looking at the genocidal impacts of yesterday in the settling of the United States or today in the war on Palestinians waged with US bombs could be wanting to be proud of the country in which we live.

With Strength as the model, we can show compassion for our symptoms and begin to find our way toward meeting the deep desires in ways that work better for us and the world. We can be the weirdos who dance around trees in nature, gather with other geeks, or look foolish in the eyes of the powers that be as we over and over again call our legislators or take over the streets in actions to create the world of democratic practice, community, and passion that we want to live in.

This January’s Devil-Strength alignment is a less usual one. Devil new moons most often have a full moon encounter with the Chariot while Strength shinies itself in a Star moonth. So these days around the full moon are good ones to let the full moon light fill you with Strength to see the Devil with new eyes. And with this clarified view, liberate our Devils’ energies for our transformation and the world’s.

To encourage a revelation on these themes as we continue journeying through this moonthly cycle, you are invited to one, some, or all of these practices:

Moon bathe by sitting or lying under a window or outside on the ground. Let go of your thoughts and soak in the light.
~ Take out any reading or your reflections from the new moon and look at them in a new light. How does your understanding of the cards shift now that time has passed and light has shifted? (If you haven’t done a reading yet, no problem, just do it now under the light of the full moon. You can try the one from the new moon.)
Bring out your Devil and Strength cards from your Tarot deck and connect them to your new moon reading / reflections. You could place/imagine these cards on either side of your reading or above and below, and then look at how they add meaning into the story your original cards offered you.
Reflect on questions such as: What are the deeper messages of the bedeviled parts of me? How to cultivate the strength to engage with these bedeviled parts? How will I be changed by working with these bedeviled parts? How can the world be changed by me engaging with my bedeviled parts? You could, of course, pull cards as responses to any of these questions. You may want to engage in Visio Divina to find the layers of wisdom within the cards.

When you are done, remember to offer gratitude for what you have received. Consider what gift you now want to return to the world. Pulling a card for guidance on the gift is always a fine thing to do. In the coming weeks and before the moon returns to dark around February 7th, offer your gift to the world.


Poet Solidarity – Respond by January 24th

Justice – Poetry

#1: Are you a poet who lives in Massachusetts Congressional District 1 / is represented by Richard Neal? If yes, please keep reading.

#2: Do you agree with what is in this letter?  

Dear Representative Richard Neal,

We abhor the loss of life from war, violence, poverty, and lack of access to food and water anywhere in the world. 

Right now we are watching with eyes burning and hearts broken by the staggering loss of life and destruction of physical, cultural, and social infrastructure caused by the bombardment and blockade of Gaza. 

We know that US support gives the right-wing Israeli government access to the bombs, matériel and armaments being used to inflict death, destruction, starvation, and pain on the people of Gaza. This is an unacceptable use of our tax dollars.

Representative Neal must call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and vote against the proposed $14.5 billion in additional military aid to Israel. Our tax dollars should instead be used to support humanitarian aid, rebuilding in Gaza, and meeting critical needs here in Congressional District 1. 

As poets we can see ourselves in the people of Gaza who work with words: journalists, writers, academics, and fellow poets. Any one of their death’s would wound our hearts. They are dying at unprecedented numbers. Eighty to 100 journalists have been killed in Gaza since October 7th. That is more than the 67 journalists killed in all 7 years of World War II. We don’t have comparison statistics on poets killed. We just have a sad accounting of 13 poets killed in Gaza killed in the 75 days between October 7th and December 21st in 2023. 

We’d like to introduce you to these poets. You will find some of their poems in the enclosed booklet. We also included some poems from us, your constituents. Finally, there are poems from living Palestinian poets.

Knowing of your Irish heritage and how important poetry is in Irish culture, we thought you would be open to our poetic lobbying for life.

We look forward to hearing your feelings about these poems and learning about how they will impact your legislation. 

With broken open hearts,

Poets of Congressional District 1

Cc: Chris Cozzaglio, Arts Liaison 


There is certainly more to be said and more ways to name what is happening, but this statement is designed to be as basic as possible and focused on the immediate realities and with just a bit of heart showing. Can you support all the statements in it? If yes, keep reading. 

#3: Can you act quickly/take action this week? 

Sending a poem by Wednesday, January 24 at 6pm is the most helpful for organizing the booklet. I may be able to include poems sent after that but before 10pm on Thursday, the 25th. I am working on coordinating a delivery to Rep Neal’s Springfield office on the January 26th day of action I know about from Jewish Voice for Peace.

#4: If yes to all three, please contribute a poem following these guidelines:

  • The theme doesn’t not have to be directly related to Gaza/this war, but should be about upholding life, creating the world we want to live, against war. 
  • Needs to have straightforward formatting.
  • Short is good. Think in the 40 lines or less range. (But this is not an absolute)
  • Format is: 
    • title of your poem, 
    • by (your name) 
    • the town you live in 
    • (optional to include one poetry role/honor title, i.e. author of …Poet Laureate…)
    • then the poem.
  • Send pasted into the body of the email to carolynanncushing AT gmail.com
  • Also in the body of the email let me know if you give permission for your name to be shared as a poet participating in this project. If I have a goodly list of us I put it in the cover letter signature

I will put all the poems into a word doc. Everyone who contributes to this action will get a link to the doc. I will make 3 copies of the document: one for Richard Neal, one for Chris Cozzaglio, and one for the staff to pass around if they are curious. 

I will not do anything else with the poems before coordinating with you.

#5: Do you want to invite others?

If yes, please feel free to share. Social media is good, but a more personal one-to-one direct ask is always nice and very effective. 

#6: What happens next? 

Yes, we might want to use this foundation to organize a reading. I would work on such a reading if we could use it to maximize our pressure on Rep. Neal and hold in a place to get attention such as in/outside his office in Springfield at the Federal Court House. That would take some organizing and I am reaching out to those working on solidarity actions for advice/support.

If you want to work on integrating poetry into further direct/strategic actions, let me know and perhaps in the future we can do collaborative planning on such things. 

Like this idea, but don’t live in MA-Congressional District 1? You might adapt it to your area. Check the Ceasefire Tracker to see where your congressperson and legislators stand. Find poems from poets killed in Gaza here, or contact me to send you the doc.

Just want to add poetry to your political action? I know someone who does their lobbying calls at night and after calling for a ceasefire, recites a short poem. The poems from poets killed in Gaza here.


Poetry Events in Collaboration with the Easthampton Public Library


Poetry and Practice: A Presentation by Easthampton’s Poet Laureate Carolyn A. Cushing

Tuesday, February 27, 6:00 – 7:00pm

One day last February Carolyn woke up with these words in her head: What if I listened to the landscape and wrote what I heard? 

So she did. She pulled on her boots, gathered a 5 x 7 notebook and a pen, and set off on her usual Easthampton walk: past the library, cutting through the football field, over the bike path, by the factory, and into the cemetery by the pond. Nothing usual happened but she listened and looked and wrote as she walked. Her perception widened. The everyday happenings of our small city became extraordinary in their aliveness and in their reflection of our changing climate. 

Carolyn will read poems written on these walks and talk about her inspirations and creative practice at the Easthampton Public Library, 9 Park St. 

This presentation will inaugurate a series of Walking and Writing sessions with Carolyn on Saturday mornings in March leaving from the library at 8:30am and convening back there at 9:30 am to share what the landscape said to us. 

RSVP via FB event so we can plan for space and you can get weather alerts.


Walking and Writing Sessions with Carolyn Cushing, Easthampton’s Poet Laureate 

Three Saturdays, March 2nd, 9th, and 23rd, 8:30am meet outside the library to begin walk, 9:30am reconvene inside the library.

Meet on the steps of the Easthampton Public Library (9 Park St.) at 8:30am. A map of the “official route” will be provided that you may follow or adapt to your own needs and interests. Our time of walking and writing is followed by a library meet up with this structure:

  • 9:30-9:45 am: Chat about how the writing and walking went
  • At 9:45am: Anyone who wants to read from their notebook for up to 3 minutes may
  • Closing: A go around where people are invited to voice an intention about further developing or sharing their writing from the walk

All of these activities are optional. People who have walked at other points in the week are welcome to join for the sharing. 

This event is weather dependent. If it is too wet for our notebooks (i.e. steady rain or snow) we will not go. If it is too icy to walk we will not go. 

RSVP via FB event so you can get weather alerts.

If you’d like to be informed of future events sign up for my poetry list on this page.


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