Two Powers final essay

The tree unites earth and sky. Image by me.

The tree unites earth and sky. Image by me.

The “Two Powers” are a key concept in ADF cosmology, and a central practice in ritual. The “Two Powers” refer to the currents of the Earth and the Sky, which the meditator visualises as flowing through their body and mingling together.

Our Own Druidry describes the Earth power as cool and nourishing as well as chaotic; the Sky power is described as bright, warm and ordered. I have practiced a Two Powers meditation as part of my daily devotionals each morning, and also make it a central “grounding and centering” practice in High Day rituals.

In my experience, the Earth power is soothing and familiar. This is the power that flows deep within the earth, and brings with it nourishment and growth. Rather than chaotic, I interpret the Earth power as restful and peaceful. It brings with it associations both of new life and of death, as we all return to the earth after we die.

The Sky power is the power of the sun, bringing golden, warming light. It is also the silver rays of the moon, reflecting the sun’s light and transforming it. In meditation this power feels more electric, and carries ideas of potential, transformation and awakening.

I have noticed a difference between doing the Two Powers indoors or out. Indoors at the shrine, it can be harder to connect the symbolism of the Two Powers with the reality of land and sky. Outside, when I can really feel the earth beneath my feet and the wind and sun on my face, it all feels so much more real and vital. Doing the Two Powers meditation sat on a glacial boulder by Eidfjord in Norway was particularly moving.

In ADF cosmology, the Two Powers portray a structure of the cosmos as one of both order and potential, spanning from the deep well of wisdom to the heights of the heavens. The “three Hallows” of ADF ritual symbolism reflect and recreate this structure. The deep well represents the Earth power, the fire the Sky power and the tree the world-tree that connects the two, rooted in the earth and reaching for the sky.

In a Norse hearth-culture, the Earth power is associated both with Midgard, the world on which we live, and also the deep well of Wyrd at the base of Yggdrasil, from whence comes fate, and wisdom. The Sky power can be associated with the “upper world” of Asgard, home of the gods, and also the divine twins Sunna and Mani, the sun and the moon. Yggdrasil, the world-tree, grows from the well of Wyrd and spans the nine realms with its branches.

The Two Powers can be representatives of various binary forces: light/dark, cold/hot, chaos/order. One suggested “binary” in The Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year is  “feminine” and “masculine”. Gendering natural concepts and forces is one of the things that pushed me away from other forms of Wiccan-influenced Paganism. I  don’t see the need to impose our (heavily culturally constructed) notions of gender roles non-human nature, and since gender is a spectrum not a binary, it cannot be clearly mapped onto the idea of the Two Powers.

The Two Powers meditation is a symbolic and practical form of meditation for Druid ritual. Druidry is deeply connected to trees, and the image of the world-tree linking the powers of Earth and Sky is a very appropriate one, for any I-E hearth culture, as the tree was a common symbol across Europe, as was the sacred well and holy fire. Regular practice of this meditation helps us to attune to a Pagan view of the world, and connect to the two main powers flowing through the mythic cosmos.

References:

ADF. Our Own Druidry: An Introduction to Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Druid Path. Tucson: ADF Publishing, 2009.

Dangler, Michael J. The ADF Dedicant Path through the Wheel of the Year. Garanus, 2010

Egelhoff, Nicholas. Sunna’s Journey: Norse liturgy through the wheel of the year. Columbus, Garanus Publishing, 2012.

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