Week 24: The Two Powers
I have been working with the Two Powers meditation for about a year and a half, but more closely the past 8 months or so. In that time this meditation has taken on significant meaning to me.
Not only do I do this meditation when I am alone but I also have written variations and preformed them in ritual for groups of people for many high days in the past year. I have leaned ways to connect to the meditative quality of the Two Powers in simple ways, when I am alone and need to balance, but simply closing my eyes and visualizing the earth's energy coming up from my feet and the sky's fire coming down through my head to meet in my center. I do this reflexively when I step out into the sunlight or when my feet touch cold earth. I almost never feel one without the other anymore. Always there is a calm balance and an energy transfer from within.
This meditation has, although somewhat simple, been powerful for me to center myself, to connect myself to the sky and earth, to represent the world tree as a beacon of earth. It has helped me sedate my anxiety at times by causing me to slow down and feel myself from every inch of my being let go of those tensions and fill them with change and inspiration.
Here are some simple answers to this week's assignment:
What parts of the meditation move you the most? The least? Does one power seem stronger?
I think one of the parts that really moves me the most is visualizing the waters rise up through me and imagining them as change, as transition, and as cool calming and mysterious. These waters really do invoke curiosity and intrigue within me and when I am anxious, these waters help cool me down and set me int he right mood to balance.
The second part that is just as powerful is as I raise my head to the sky and feel the warmth of the star/sun/moon fall over me. At this point in the meditation I am cool and relaxed and I have let go of the anxiety and frustrations I had before I started meditating. But when the light touches me it feels as if I am set on fire with intention. I feel energized and that those calm waters have been set on fire to carry that sense of balance and drive beyond the meditation itself.
Both of these powers seem tremendously strong to me and one without the other would be far less impactful.
Many people will come to feel that one power is masculine and one is feminine. Can you make arguments for each representing each side? Which convinces you more?
I actually dislike this comparison because I don't feel that either power has a gender. I have never seen the Earth Power as 100% strictly feminine (along the idea of "Mother Earth") because there are masculine energies as well as feminine energies that speak to me. As for the Sky Power, again, I never feel one completely over the other 100% of the time.
However, I will say there is always balance for me and there are two sky powers that really call upon specific genders for me. The Sun speaks to me as masculine and when I visualize the Sun as my sky power, generally the Earth Power feels more feminine. Other times I call upon the Moon as my Sky Power and the Moon speaks to me as feminine. When I feel the moon the Earth Power feels more masculine to me.
The gender that always feels more strongly is that of my Sky Power, but I have never considered the "gender" of these elements until writing this as above all things, I feel balance more than I feel gender associations. Overall, my Two Power feels both masculine and feminine and without pull in one direction over the other.
The Sky Power is sometimes described as "Ordering" and the Earth Power as "chaotic" Do you feel this is an accurate depiction?
For the most part, yes. I completely agree that the Earth Power is often chaotic, it is mysterious, and it is full of change, transition and curiosity. It is also the first power that wages war with whatever state I am in before I decide to meditate.
I do not really see the Sky Power as ordering as much as I see it as inspiring and like the hammer that drives the nail of intention home. The Sky Power focuses power in whatever direction I need to go but sometimes that is not necessarily ordered. Most often, yes, but other times its just a powerful energy with no real direction aside to charge me.
Can you write a chant or a prayer about the way the cosmos looks when we're in ritual?
Ill give it a try.
I stand upon this mighty land
My roots reach deep.
My mind extends high
I am the tree that reaches all.
I am the catalyst of mysterious water
Waters from the Earth
I am the catalyst of inspiring fire
Fires from the Sky
I am the whirlpool of inferno and typhoon
These powers run through me,
And I grow strong.
I am the Tree of Balance.
I am the glowing center of all.
Week 23: Fourth High Day Recap
Lughnassadh with Columbia Grove on August 7th 2016 marked my 1 year anniversary attending rituals with them and we got off to a dramatic start as the skies opened up and Lugh sent us some much needed rainfall (with thunder to boot) 30 min before our ritual began and promptly stopped as we needed to start. We all braved/celebrated/danced in the preliminary rainfall, and prayed that the fire would start so we could made offerings to the Kindreds, Danu the Earth Mother, our warrior and protector the Morrigan, Ogma for inspiration, our Gatekeeper Manannan mac Lir, and our deities of the occasion Lugh and Tailtiu.
We made a special offering to our newly departed member Deb who has joined the Ancestors this past month to welcome her on her new path. After our meditation to meet Lugh and Tailtiu, as if on cue, the sun made its grand appearance across a beautiful blue sky lifting our spirits high.
We had warrior games of spear throwing and one guest was crowned our grove champion. I called upon the warrior Morrigan for this ritual and wrote her invocation myself. What happened during the invocation still gives me chills. I felt as if she had stabbed me with the spear I was holding and threatened, “Don’t say this if you don’t mean it” and I said the invocation without faltering. It was the first time a deity had spoken/warned me in ritual and I lost my place. During the ritual crows kept flying around whenever I spoke as one of our members pointed it out. This was the moment the Morrigan entered my spiritual life.
Lughnasadh marked my 1 year anniversary attending High Day rituals with my grove (Columbia Protogrove)
Being an anniversary for me, I spent a lot of time reflecting on why I am here, how much I have changed, and really solidly connecting myself with my spirituality. I have seen all the seasons and celebrations through the eyes of an ADF druid in training now and alongside an awesome array of people. I have researched more history and traditions within this year than ever before. I have found ways to connect with Hearth cultures I am not drawn too. I have been INSPIRED each high day in the ways of our ancestors. I have seen happiness, I have seen teamwork, and I have seen GROWTH.
This is a very emotional anniversary for me because I am deeply proud of myself. I feel grounded. I feel my roots with my own Druidry will carry on beyond my grove because my spirituality has a wholly different importance to me now.
As for the ritual itself, the energy was beyond words.
I came into this ritual with my own growth and sense of pride being my 1 year and all but there were a lot of things I did not expect.
First, I called upon the Warrior Goddess Morrigan this ritual to protect our rite. I wrote my invocation fluidly and without reference before hand as if she were a Goddess I had worked with before but I have never once called upon the Morrigan. In many ways, she has intimidated me so I have given her respect from a distance but never directly invoked her.
It was a big deal for me to write my first Invocation truly from the heart without using examples as reference. I was really proud of it, but with spear in hand, as I shouted the words to her, something happened with me that I cannot fully describe.
She was there.
It felt as if in my opening statement I had been stabbed in the heart with the warning "Don't dare say this unless you truly mean it, girl!"
I went cold, I had goosebumps, but that was replaced by fire in my chest that came out through my lips. My words came out flawless and carried more power than even I had had intended. The goosebumps lasted to the end and after I finished, I had lost my place in the ritual.
I felt, "removed" from the general routine of these rituals and this feeling actually continued a lot during the ritual for me. I am sure it was not noticeable to others but it felt like a sudden rush of adrenaline had built up and then it had no where to go.
I've been a very violent person in the past, and I've struggled with adrenaline balance for YEARS, so this was a feeling I know well but not one I have ever experienced in a ritual.
It was like feeling ready to fight for my life and realizing I was alone without threat, then I blinked and saw all the grove guests standing there as our members continued with the ritual. I had to mentally catch up to where we were.
It really was undeniable how strong I felt the Morrigan.
This ritual dealt with death and celebration on several levels. Our deities of the occasion were the Warrior God Lugh and his foster mother Goddess Tiailtiu and we mourned her death and celebrated her sacrifice, love and harvest. We also mourned the loss of one of our Grove founders, Deb, who passed away and joined the ancestors 2 weeks prior.
I volunteered before the ritual to say something on Deb's behalf and to do the Grove offerings for her, and this was another hugely powerful part for me. Already feeling affected by the Morrigan I spoke for Deb and tried desperately not to let my voice crack and break. I was very in the moment and later another Member of our grove told me that a crow landed a branch above us when I began to give my speech to Deb and shortly after she counted 3 additional crows who flew away with the first. I wish I would have seen that myself, but I do not doubt the words for a moment because I know how deeply I felt the Morrigan there. The offering and words were powerful enough, but the added visual of the crows was something truly unbelievable to me.
Another part of this ritual with great meaning to me was that while our Seer was taking the omen I felt a tickle on my hand and looked down to a beautiful black and white jumping spider on my wrist. I giggled and showed another Member sitting next to me and let the little guy/girl wander up my wrist and then jump off of me. Given my general relationship to spiders this was a very welcome visit by a wonderful little jumper. This is a species I have seen for years and years but when I looked up its genus and species (Phidippus audax) I discovered its common name is "Bold Jumper" and that they are fearless little spiders who tend to prey on food much larger than themselves. I've never thought of how brave and bold this particular spider was but given my experiences with the Morrigan in this ritual, again, another element seemed to add to the "Warrior" aspect.
There was a great deal of sadness in this ritual and generally speaking, I am not the person who cries easily in public. I might get teary eyed, but tears generally do not fall. There were 3 offerings from Grove guests (and a member) that reached me deeply. I connected with their words, I was moved by their honesty, I felt their passion, their pain, their loss. Then there was the breaking moment where it all became overwhelming to me and for the first time ever, I openly sobbed during a ritual. Tears streamed down my cheeks while a member gave offering of song, I was so thankful for my relationships with my deities, I was so proud of my 1 year anniversary, I was overwhelmed by the loss of Tiailtiu, of Deb, of many of our guests personal stories that shadow my own dark past, I just lost myself in the moment. It was in that moment that felt tremendously connected to the nature and the people around me.
We had 25 people attend and at the arrival time, our grove was visited by a downpour of rain and thunder. I thought for sure our guests would leave. I worried that we couldn't continue on outside but as soon as we were ready to start, the sky cleared and by the end of the ritual there were blue skies and sunshine blessing us. Lugh had brought us rain, and thunder, and the sun all at once. Oregon has been so desperate for rain that every person there rejoiced.
This ritual moved me in ways I could never fully express in text. Im still tremendously emotional about it. In the comforts of my own home I have sobbed off and on since coming home just remembering all the details of the day and how much I appreciate each of our grove members for all the hard work they put into this ritual.
My Druidry is my heart. My Grove is my home. My Grove members are my tribe.
Morrigan, I still deeply fear you (as one should) but I feel you there and I respect your power and honor your presence.
------------------*from the newsletter, I might use this for final write up*-----------------
"We got off to a dramatic start as the skies opened up and Lugh sent us some much needed rainfall with thunder to boot 30 min before our ritual began but by the time we started the weather had cleared to a light drizzle.
With a total of 25 guests who braved/celebrated/danced in the preliminary rainfall, we prayed by a good fire and made offerings to the Kindred and too Danu the Earth Mother, our sovereign Goddess Columbia, our warrior and protector the Morrigan, Ogma for inspiration, our Gatekeeper Manannan mac Lir, and our deities of the occasion Lugh and Tiailtiu.
We also made a special offering to our newly departed member Deb who has joined the Ancestors this past month to welcome her on her new path. After our meditation to meet Lugh and Tiailtiu the sun made its grand appearance across a beautiful blue sky lifting our spirits high.
Many guests competed in our Warrior Games and took turns throwing spears into a targeted hay bale and we crowned this year’s Grove Warrior!
Our Omen was taken by Seer Mama Gaea from the Gaian Tarot deck
Ancestors: 5 of water (R) - too often, when people suffer from emotional distress, they sit and linger in that negative emotion. The ancestors are telling us to let that energy go. allow it to flow through you and away from you. Honor those feelings that you have, but allow them to leave you so you can heal.
Nature Spirits: Elder of Earth - If you spend time to connect to the Earth, each person will find that super power that they can master. The Spirits of the Earth are here to help us on this journey. We just have to take the time to see them. Once you find that skill you are supposed to master, then that will help you become the person you are truly meant to be
Shining Ones: Ace of Fire - The image of the snake escaping its shell is one of great renewal and transformation. When you find your true passion, your creativity bursts forth. So the Shining Ones are providing us with that energy we need to start that new transformative journey.
In the Celtic Gaelic culture, it appears that this festival was of much less important as the 4 main fire feasts but it is tremendously likely that they did celebrate it nonetheless. Our Own Druidry suggests that these Gaelic countries may have absorbed Viking lore and we do have neighbor cultures such as the Welsh celebration of Alban Hefin to look at in terms of celebration at this time of year. (Our Own Druidry, 60)
Alban Hefin is a "Spirit night" and is a time when the Fairies/Sidhe are active and their presence is stronger among us. The other "spirit night" high days are Beltane and Samhain. Summer Solstice is the time of the longest days and the most warmth for our Earth. Aine, queen of the faeries was honored in Irish cultures, and plants were collected for their magical abilities. This was the time to make sun teas and to eat fresh food, outside in the sunlight.
There is a strong duality to Midsummer. On one hand it is the longest day of the year, full of the most brightness. It is a time for growing, celebration and joy, but on the other hand, it is the birth of night. Each day after Midsummer, the night grows longer until Autumn Equinox, when night and day balance. Finally by Yule the light is at its weakest, overcome by darkness, only to be reborn again and spend the next half of the year growing stronger.
It's both amazing to celebrate the season and yet to mourn the light as we enter the dark half of the year from that point forward. This time of year really invokes a lot of future thought and I especially enjoy spending time in the sunshine, dancing and leaving offerings to the Nature Spirits and finding ways to show my creativity.
Week 21: Nature Awareness 2
This week corresponds with some inward thought on practical experience of nature and my personal place within it.
*This is actually one of my favorite weeks because it really opened my eyes up to how I could be living "greener" and more Druidic*
1. Where does your trash go?
Generally, into a trash bin, and a garbage truck takes it away to a landfill.
2. Are there options for recycling that you're making use of? Why or why not?
Some, yes, and others I can improve on. I always recycle cardboard because there is a special bin for it. I am not as good about recycling beverage containers like beer bottles or cans. There are a few considerations though, we have a glass recycle bin and I DO use this. I don't always take my cans to the store though as there are some homeless individuals and often times kids will benefit more from the money raised from return deposits than I will. Its not the greenest thing, but I see benefit in more than one area.
3. Are there steps you can take to help reduce the amount of refuse you create?
YES! NO MORE DISPOSABLE THINGS. (Or at least cut down on them) No more single package items. (Seriously, the amount of plastic on single serving items is ridiculous) No more using paper cups at coffee shops when I can be bringing my personal re-useable thermos. Try to bring my own bags to grocery stores because piles of paper or plastic bags in the house are unnecessary. When there is an option, choose to have things emailed to me rather than mailed. If a cashier asks if I want my receipt and it isn't a big deal, say no. Try to print less for school to cut down paper waste. Try not to cook meals too large to eat at one sitting when leftovers rarely get eaten.
4. What happens to your wastewater?
This one I didn't actually know off hand and it startled me. What I discovered after doing some research is that ultimately, after processing by a water treatment facility (that has a lot of detailed information on the website about each step of this processing method, that the water is recycled to a river near my home. There is also a lot of information about storm water and how to keep pollutants out of storm drains and how those pollutants could affect the river systems as well.
5. What rivers are nearby? Do you have a connection to them? What sort of connection?
There are several rivers near me but I would have to say the only one I have a real connection too is the Columbia River. The connection for this river is on several levels, first, before ever considering myself druidic, I would hike in the Columbia Gorge and admire all of the beautiful waterfalls. I found a very strong sense of peace in that area especially when I could hike up a cliffside and look down at the river below. Ive been visiting that area for over a decade when I just need to get out of the city and reset. The other connection I have is a new one that I have developed with my grove. Our sovereign goddess is that of the River Columbia as this river brings life and touches our lives in this area in many ways. Recently, several of my grove members participated in a guided meditation in hopes of meeting the Goddess Columbia and it was a very powerful experience for me. It was not anything that I was expecting but it really helped me feel that the river is every changing, always nurturing, and a force that flows through my heart deeply.
6. Describe the basic climate of your area. Is it often wet and rainy? Dry and sunny? Wet and Sunny? How has this affected the kinds of plants and animals in the area?
I live in the Pacific North West and generally speaking we are very rainy, very cloudy and full of the color green. In my state alone, we have forests, ocean beaches, and desert as well and you can visit them all within the span of half a day. The area I live is lush, green and often wet. Mushrooms are abundant in the fall, amphibians are all over, there are birds in the trees and squirrels all over. The diversity of plants is outstanding. Every single year I could learn 50+ new plants and flowers and still find new ones the next year. We have forest fires in the summer and there is new growth in many areas. There are canyons, and lizards in the desert areas. There are sparse Junipers in the deserts and beach grass on the beaches. Walking distance from my home is a wetland marsh area with nutria, ducks, squirrels, Willow Trees, toads, Cat tails, swamp flowers, and tons and tons of Oak and Maple trees. It is very obvious that my area thrives on the abundance of Water.
7. What visible effects have humans had on the natural landscapes around you?
Litter is a problem. The wetlands area nearly always has some type of litter in the standing water (or sunk to the bottom) There are apartments springing up all over and the areas that were once vast wetlands have been condensed to smaller areas. The animals are very afraid of people because so many children chase after them and no one pays attention to any of the details of the area. One day I saw that someone who had spray painted the trail had also spray painted a bunch of trees and grasses and it was very sad to see those unnatural chemicals on such beautiful things. Ive seen people tear limbs from trees for who knows what reason. Ive seen carvings in trees from humans who felt they needed to vandalize something. It is obvious that the effects of humans are not in any ways helpful to my area outside of those who protect it.
8. Where do the winds usually come from? Are there different winds at different times of the year?
We live in an area that has changing winds because of the changing climates of our state. Winds from the West bring ocean moisture and cooler air. Winds from the East come from our desert areas over the mountains so we get residual warmth but we are never a dessert climate. We live in a valley and we are generally cool all year long and very moist. The Willamate Valley is a beautiful, lush area. Our summers are never outrageously hot because of the cool winds from the West, and our winters are generally pretty warm because of our valley position and low elevation.
9. What major crops are grown in your region? Why are these particular crops grown here?
Oh man, we have so much available here. We have all kinds of tree farms, we grow hay, mint, corn, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, garlic, potatoes, seriously, SO MANY things grow in our area. I personally grew up on a home farm that grew every sort of vegetable. We don't do well with citrus fruits or high temperature crops but root veggies and anything that loves moisture grows well here. These crops grow here for the same reasons as the winds. We are a moist low altitude valley area that avoids High heat and extreme Cold. Water is abundant and it rains more often than it doesn't. :)
10. Where does your power come from?
Until now I had never thought of this. I went to my electric company's website and discovered that our electricity is a mixture of
32% purchased power
18% natural gas
8% wind and solar
Wow, ouch. I didn't realize how much coal was still being used in our area and how little hydro and solar power we use. We can do so much better.
Right now I realize that there are a lot of ways I can improve my awareness of the actual world I live in, and quite honestly, assignments like this really open my eyes. I hope to continue educating myself. I will start with what I can control (#3 the most) and continue working to bigger and better things.
Week 20: The Nine Virtues: Vision
125 words min, 375 words max.
Adequate/Meets Criteria Requirements:
Subjective combined with objective approach [e.g., ["This is what it means (dictionary definition); this is what it means to me."]
Note: Dictionary definitions will not be included as part of the word count.
Dedicants may also include other virtues, if desired, and compare them to the nine.
Our Own Druidry Definition: "The ability to broaden one's perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present and future."
Merriam-Webster definition: “the act or power of imagination. Mode of seeing or conceiving. Unusual discernment or foresight. Direct mystical awareness of the supernatural usually in visible form”
My first thoughts while reading the ADF definition is that it was very different than what I would normally think of vision as. I think of seeing, I think of visualizing what you want out of the world and looking for it. What I like about the ADF definition is that it touches on quite a few other points of reflection.
Vision includes broadening your perspective. I fully agree with this; to be truly visionary means to be understanding and knowledgeable in many things. One does not become visionary without considering a multitude of options and considering the outcomes of others. I personally try to be as open to the perspectives of others because it helps me better understand more sides of the story. It helps paint a brighter picture, and it helps my vision clear. I also agree with the part about relating to the past, present and future. This is something I genuinely believe to be a visionary ideal. As a scholar who has a deep passion for history it really does help open my perspective to the present and give me ideas about the future of civilizations, of cultures, and of my city. The virtue of Vision is to LOOK into the past, see it from many angles, consider it, feel your perspective open to more than one idea, and to use that wisdom to consider the now, from many perspectives and to dream of a tomorrow based on what you have read, seen, and hope for.
Most of the dictionary definitions would say that Vision was the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom and I think that also fits well with the above definition from Our Own Druidry.