Two Powers Essay

Mastering the Two Powers was one of the greatest challenges I had with completing the Dedicant Path. While I’ll try to keep my troubles with meditation generally to the essay detailing my practical experiences, I’ll just say that it took me more than a year to translate the powers from something I understood intellectually into something I understood experientially: it was difficult for me to spot the Two Powers in life.

From the beginning, I used a basic Two Powers guided meditation from the ADF website that describes the powers as the cool, chaotic power of the Earth and the warm, ordering power of the Sky. To my understanding, the power of the Earth is the raw, unshaped power of potential, while the Sky power is the ordering, illuminating power of inspiration. These two powers reflect many European traditions, with the well/Underworld, the heavens/Overworld above and below the World Tree, which depends on the Two Powers for life and bridges the gap between them by transforming them into more than the sum of their parts. Together, the powers mingle to create the oft-mentioned, seldom-described Third Power of action and growth, the physical (or mental) act of creation, which depends on the user of the Two Powers.

The metaphor that worked for me when working with the powers was that of a seed: the Earth provides the seed nourishment, the Sky provides the light needed for awakening, but the actual growth depends on the marriage of those powers in the seed itself. It’s not a perfect, scientifically-accurate metaphor, but I believe it works. The Earth (real and metaphorical) contains the raw ingredients needed for life, while the Sky provides the light and air needed to spark the growth. The direction of growth and development depends on the seed—or upon myself, if we step back from the metaphor. This is similar to the notion of the poet entering a darkened cave before composition and then struck by the light upon emergence, composing a poem after the quiet retirement and the sudden illumination, articulated by Ian Corrigan in “Working with the Two Powers.” The darkness provides the space for ideas to develop, the illumination provides a catalyst, but the poet himself does the work.

So how does all this work in life and in ritual? The idea of the worshipper grounding himself in the raw power of the earth, calling on the enlightening power of the sky, and blending the two powers to make something new reflects the pattern of our worship: rooted in the earth, with connections to the land and to our ancestors, we reach to the sky to call upon the deities to shine their light and beauty upon this world that we share with the spirits of nature. This taps us into the powers described, and, with them, we (often) perform a Working. By focusing on the Two Powers and by drawing them into ourselves, we prepare a fertile space for worship and magic to occur.

This type of grounding and centering exercise works beyond ritual, as well, by making the user aware of the resources she has always present and the power of change at her fingertips. More specifically, it has helped me to stay calm in stressful situations by feeling myself rooted to the Earth and influenced by the power of the Sky, with the true power to take action solely in myself. Furthermore, as a writer and a creator, I can divide up the raw material, the organizing principles, and the work itself: while there may be a Muse, she doesn’t do the work for me. This meditation reminds me of my own agency, vitally important in both life and worship.

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