[Dedicant Path Requirement] Two Powers Essay

In the Two Powers meditation, one roots down into the dark/’womb’ energy of the earth and reaches up into the bright/’electrifying’ energy of the sky, striving to integrate both and allowing them to mingle and flow within. In this sense, one both reenacts the creation of life and acts as the ‘tree’ of the sacred triad – roots in the well, branches in the stars, holding the world together through the commingling of light and dark, life and death, fire and salty ice. We concentrate that energy within ourselves, often in order to direct it towards a specific goal.
The Two Powers meditation is an ADF-specific form of grounding and centering. Grounding is easy to understand – it’s connecting to the power oft he earth, steadying yourself by attuning to that energy so much larger and more constant than yourself. Centering was a little harder to grok, especially in the context of an earth/sky energy dichotomy, but I came to the conclusion that it is becoming an axis, a conduit – opening up and aligning, creating a channel through which energy flows up and down unobstructed. Becoming a lightning rod, if you will.
The Two Powers script was familiar to me – I was first taught to ground by a Wiccan woman who recognized that my empathetic capacity was overwhelming me. When you understand how to sink into the earth, it’s only a matter of time before you are able to comprehend stretching in the opposite direction – it’s balance. So following through the script was relatively easy. It’s a different feel from my usual method of grounding and centering – taller, more black and white, cooler. It’s harder for me to do. I don’t like it as well, although I can use it. I find that it’s more comfortable in groups, like standing in a grove of trees.
When I ground and center, especially when doing solitary workings, I prefer to lie down. Lying down, you begin to settle. We have both energies in us, mingled, and they begin to separate and surface, like liquids in a glass: cold, dark, heavy earth-water energy sinking to the bottom like silt, air-fire rising to spread across the surface like honey-caramel light. The energies within reach to those without – root to the dark, cool then warm then to the fire at the earth’s center, trickling down like roots and silt – hot/cold, dark/light. Reach to the light, bright and hot then cool and to the darkness out at the edges of the sky. You, in the center, join bright and dark, and they mingle in you – the meeting place. Layers of alternates, turtles all the way down: that’s what the Two Powers are, to me. Two sides of the same coin.

[Dedicant Path Requirement] Book Report: In Search of the Indo-Europeans, J.P. Mallory

For my Indo-European studies reading requirement I chose to read In Search of the Indo-Europeans by J.P. Mallory. In this book, he covers who the Indo-Europeans were, where they lived, where they might have come from, and what we can learn about them, their culture, and religion based on a reconstruction of their language and archaeological evidence.
The first section of the book covers how reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language led to the idea that these disparate groups speaking clearly related languages must have descended from one original people. In the next two chapters, Mallory discusses what we know about these many groups – one chapter dealing with Asian groups, one chapter dealing with European groups – and what we can infer about their common predecessor based on comparative linguistic analysis.
The next two chapters deal with culture and religion. The first chapter is a general summary of what we think we know about Indo-European culture – what animals they raised, whether they were nomadic pastoralists or agriculturalists, the technology that was available to them, what kind of trade systems and social hierarchies seem plausible – based on the words linguists have been able to reconstruct. The second chapter is a substantial survey of Indo-European religion – Mallory discusses Dumezeil’s tripartation and whether it seems like a reasonable model to apply to Indo-European religion and society, as well as detailing elements that repeat across various Indo-European cultures: things like the sacrifice of horses, human sacrifice, divine twins, and dualistic ideas about the world.
In the latter half of the book, Mallory summarizes various competing theories about where the Proto-Indo-European homeland might have been located, as well as what artifacts the Proto-Indo-Europeans left behind and where. He also devotes a chapter to how the Indo-Europeans spread throughout Europe and Asia, and what this might tell us about where they came from.
I found this book – although dense and somewhat complicated – to be extremely informative and helpful in terms of understanding the underpinnings of some aspects of ADF’s ritual and theological tradition. While I had read the basic explanation of tripartation provided in the Dedicant’s Manual, reading the section on Dumezeil’s and his ideas in In Search of the Indo-Europeans helped me understand why we use this construct. I also found the discussion of dualism (man/woman, light/dark, earth/sky) particularly interesting, because I have always been a little nonplussed by the dualistic ideas evident in so much of paganism when we generally espouse the idea that tolerance and equality are of primary importance, as well as the idea that there is strength in diversity. Getting a better look at the history of pagan dualism helped me integrate the idea of it in a way I was not able to before.

[Dedicant Path Requirement] Imbolc 2014

If I had to choose one word to describe my Imbolc ritual, it would be nerve-wracking. It was my first-ever solitary High Day done with the COoR.
I began with a chant and censed myself and my ritual space. Then, I made my offering to the Earth Mother and established the fire, well, and tree on my altar. I asked Lugh to be present as my gatekeeper before opening the gates and inviting the Kindreds. I invoked Brighid as the deity of the occasion, and made offerings to her – both of physical things and of promised actions. Then I took the omen – my two questions were, “Have I done rightly?” And “What must I now do?” I drew a seven of pentacle so for the first and a two of cups for the second.
Then I asked for the blessing – that I would honor my ancestors, the gods, and the spirits, and that they would look kindly on my and witness the vows I planned to make.
The working was the part of the ritual I was most worried about,but also the part I felt to be most necessary. I have felt a very strong call to the gods, the ground, and my people from a very young age, but I had never formally dedicated myself to this calling. Since Imbolc is a time of transition and purification!I chose to make that dedication as part of my rite.
When I finished, I knelt, thanked and drank to all those present, closed the gates, and then declared the rite closed.
I tripped up on the order a couple times, but there were no major mishaps; for my first solitary ADF-style high day, I think it went very smoothly. I had fasted during daylight hours for four days prior to Imbolc, and this added an unexpected but noticeable focus to my preparation and the ritual itself. I had also begun offering regularly to Brighid in early January, and it was kind of surprising to me how much this affected my comfort level in inviting her to be present at the rite; it brought the idea of reciprocal relationships into a whole new focus for me.