I had other plans for a post today but between feeling a bit crummy and out of sorts and getting ready for a job interview tomorrow (finally!) I’ve run out of writerly steam. Expect book reviews and more Dedicant Path stuff later! Instead of anything requiring too much thought and planning, today I’ll post my ongoing Meditation Log for ADF’s Dedicant Path. I need 5 months of recorded meditative practice to meet the DP requirements. Here are my notes since keeping my log since August 11.
Today’s post is short – and, if it’s a bit rambly, I apologize. I started playing Skyrim this week. I think that’s all I need to say about that.
Part of my Dedicant Path homework this week has been studying and meditating upon the twin energies known as the Two Powers. A Two Powers meditation can look awfully similar to the ubiquitous generi-Pagan tree meditation – you know, the one where you visualize yourself as a tree, with roots curling deep into the dark earth and branches stretching high above toward the bright sky? The eponymous Powers are dual streams of natural energy and magic which help practitioners bring themselves into alignment with their place in the universe. The first is the Earth Power, the darkness, growth, and mystery of the earth (and waters) beneath our feet. The second is the Sky Power, the shining and just light of the Heavens above us.
In ADF, our rituals center us along two axes. The vertical axis places us in the Midrealm, with the Upperworld above us and the Underworld below. The Midrealm is where humanity resides with nature spirits and deities of the earth and land; the Upperworld, the home of the gods and goddesses; the Underworld, the home of our Ancestors and deities of death. Along a horizontal axis, the Midrealm is divided into Land (surrounding you), Sea (below you) and Sky (above you) with yourself firmly in the Center. Knowing my place is very important in my ADF worship, not just to properly serve the Three Kindreds but also to understand just how vital my presence is to the entire spiritual ecosystem. We humans are in a unique position to interact with a variety of spirits and affect the world around us, both magical and mundane. Without our continued attention and service, I believe (and I don’t think this is ADF doctrine, so it’s all on me) that said spiritual ecosystem would collapse, radically alter itself, or at least go dormant until the next sapient species comes along.
But that’s just me. And as me, I like using the Two Powers meditation to remind myself of just how important I am in my corner of the world. Every change and every being is important; every entity has the ability to access the Sky and the Earth Energy, and thus be connected to the greater web of existence. So everything is important, because everything – if added, or subtracted – changed the mosaic. A tiny change, maybe, but every facet counts. This is an incredible truth to wake up to, and with it comes an equally incredible responsibility. In my own way, small as it may be, I am just as important for the maintenance of the web/wheel/mosaic/[insert appropriate metaphor here] of life as the greatest god, oldest Ancestor, or wildest spirit. All of us, together, call this reality home.
One of the ongoing requirements for ADF’s Dedicant Path is a 5-month practice of meditation or mental training techniques, involving at least one session a week (though of course, more is preferable). I have been an on-and-off meditator since before my Pagan conversion and have tried everything from guided meditation to zazen with a local Zen Buddhist group to using a secondhand New Age book to pray to my guardian angels. (It’s been an interesting 6-7 years since leaving Christianity.) My regular practice, which never did extend past the ephemeral two-week mark, would occasionally provide me with insights and understanding, but more often left me frustrated, bored, and with a backache.
Perhaps the very first lesson I learned and relearned when pursuing meditation is that the concept of the “monkey mind” is very real, very present, and very persistent. The monkey mind is that aspect of our conscious thought that seeks to know everything. It is a constant chatter of questioning, organization, and judgment. Think of a monkey with a pickle jar. He wants a pickle so he reaches in and grabs it, then tries to pull it out horizontally so it’s too wide to fit through the head of the jar. If the monkey would just let go of the pickle, he wouldn’t be trapped and would be free to go about his day. The mind is like this too – just replace “pickle” with any thought, emotion, or sensation that drives the mind to fixation.