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Posts Tagged ‘earth’

Where is the Ground?.

Another excellent post from Sarenth Odinsson about the future, which seems to me a nice tie in to yesterdays post about the bees.

We are coming to what seems like a turning point in the environment – whether that’s the loss of pollinators, the eventual running out of oil, the eventual burning out of the land we live on, the detriments of monocultured crops, the catastrophically changing climate, the droughts, the fresh water shortages and waste, the pollution of air and waterways, the mountains and mountains of trash… the list goes on and on.

I found this especially poignant:

How do we abandon the outdated models of life and living so that we may, once we have found it, embrace the ground on which we are to build the future?

While each person must find their own solution, here are a few of my thoughts on the matter:

  • Each of us must find a way to live in better concert with our local ecosystems.
  • Each of us must consume less, grow more, and reuse everything to its capacity.
  • What we consume must have some kind of long-term use.
  • Land, both the sustainable preservation of and growth on arable land, and the preservation of wild places must be at the top of the priority list.  No viable environment, and it will not matter what kind of future we try to make.
  • Our communities need to bring its fundamental functions back down to a local level wherever possible.
  • Our communities must support its local workers.
  • Our communities must, in every way possible, learn to live with LESS: Less Energy Stimulation Stuff.

None of this is easy, but that said, neither is waiting for Peak Oil to take full effect and you, as well as your neighbors, loved ones, friends, and so on, are left scrambling with no real plan to tackle the challenge at hand.  Far better to get through the theories and on to practical application while there is still some time left.  There is also the thought of ‘do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good’.  Do I do all of the above?  No.  I do not own the land I live on, nor do I have a lot of control as to what comes into or out of the home, but I do what I can, where I can.  Even raising awareness of Peak Oil is doing something, though the hard work, as mentioned earlier, will still need to get done sooner or later.

I talk a lot about being the Druid of This Place – that our Druidry needs to take care of the local land as much as it does the whole Earth. Do I always succeed at being a good steward of that land? Absolutely no. My garden is small (only 10ft by 12ft, on a very large lot) in a large yard, and my corporate job means I spend less time caring for it than I probably should. I won’t grow more than enough food to be tasty and occasional for a short period in May/June, not enough even to store for the rest of the year.

As a druid, this often bothers me. I feel like with the resources at my disposal, I should be doing more.

But the thing about all of this?

It’s hard.

It’s really fucking hard.

It’s hard to change how you eat, what you eat, how you purchase things, how you spend your spare time, how you live on your land – especially if you live in an apartment. It’s HARD. This isn’t “replace some lightbulbs” this is “fundamentally rethink your lifestyle”.

As much as I try to do, I still drive 35 miles each way to my job every day, I still play video games in the evenings, and I still purchase things I don’t truly “need” (though I try to buy them from small artisans when possible, they’re still not necessary purchases). I don’t cook all of my meals from locally sourced produce, and I don’t even buy organic 100% of the time.

I’m trying to get better at it, but I still fall short of a lot of what I could do to make my “footprint” smaller. I still have lots of skills to learn that would help me be more self-sufficient. Those skills take time though – time that I don’t have a lot of, not least because I spend 2.5 hours a day in traffic.

I don’t really know how to put the two together. How do I continue to live my suburban lifestyle in a way that I can sustain while sustaining the future of the Earth?

It’s a tough question.

I guess I just have to keep working at it, and letting my spirituality help influence my intellectual decisions.

 

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“An essay focusing on the Dedicant’s understanding of the meaning of the ‘Two Powers’ meditation or other form of ‘grounding and centering’ as used in meditation and ritual. This account should include impressions and insights that the Dedicant gained from practical experience (300 word min).”

The Two Powers meditation is a form of grounding and centering used by ADF specifically as a way to create a stable platform from which to work ritual. Grounding and centering is a fairly common Neopagan practice that involves connecting with the earth energy and stabilizing your own energy – it is a form of meditation that allows the practitioner to enter a balanced energetic state from which to work ritual and magic (or just from which to continue their day). ADF’s two powers differ from many other Neopagan rituals in that they specifically call upon both the Earth power and the Sky power, pulling up energy from one and tempering it with the energy of another.

As I work within a (mainly) Norse hearth, I frequently connect to these powers via a World Tree mentality – that my body and mind become the axis of the world, through which the Earth and Sky flow freely. While this doesn’t specifically relate to any one Norse practice, I think it is reflected in the ADF cosmology of Fire, Well and Tree – where the axis is the tree, the Sky power is the fire, and the Earth power comes up from the well. I find this imagery particularly useful when beginning ADF style Core Order of Ritual rites, since I am using the images of the hallows within myself, as a tool of balance, and then using that energy to recreate those hallows as a point of ritual focus.

I’ve seen conversations on the ADF Dedicants list of people who connect with the Earth power as “hot” (due to the central core of the earth being molten and hot) and the Sky power as “cold” (from the coolness of space) but I prefer the more Earth based reflections of these powers. The Earth is cool, because when I dig my hands into the dirt it is cool and damp. The Sky is warm because the sun is warm on my face and warms my body and the land. I do not refer to either power as gendered, since I dislike the idea that “feminine” and “masculine” can be so easily matched to these powers. I think they are beyond gender, though I relate to an Earth Mother and to a Sun Goddess, so perhaps I can perceive both as female (in a way). I still prefer them to be genderless sources of power. I especially dislike the gendered orientation when referring to the powers as Chaotic and Ordering (since I don’t think masculine or feminine traits can or should be placed on that spectrum).

My personal work with the Two Powers started off very unbalanced. I had plenty of previous experience connecting to the Earth power, but had not ever tried to connect to or use the Sky power. I’ve corrected that through practice, though I still find it easier to connect to Earth. If I ever find myself having trouble with the Sky power, I can usually just step outside though – I live in a place that gets lots of very powerful sunlight! I tend to practice meditation either seated or lying down on my back, and I find it much easier to practice the Two Powers meditation when I am seated or standing upright, as it facilitates the feeling of being an axis between the powers. Adding hand motions to the Two Powers when standing before my altar was also helpful, as I used my hands to literally scoop the Earth power up into myself and then pull the Sky power down through my body. The addition of movement, especially in relation to using the mental image of a World Tree to complete this meditation, was really useful. I have also found that I do better with the Two Powers if I take time to center myself on my breath for a few moments before I begin the visualization.

My next step in using these Two Powers will be to use them as a source of direct energy for working magic in ritual. I am comfortable using them to ground and center, but I have not yet truly worked with drawing on those balanced energies as a source of magical power specifically. As I work more with these powers, I expect that my experience of opening the gates will become stronger, since I will have a better idea how to channel these Two Powers into that act of magical work.

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There’s been a lot of talk on the Dedicants list about the Two Powers meditation, and eventually I have to write an essay about it, so I figured I’d get some of my thoughts about this particularly ADF style of meditation written down.

I was already very accustomed to the “grounding” and Earth Power part of the Two Powers meditation before I started on this path of Druidry, so getting started with the Two Powers was pretty easy for me. That first connection happened almost without thinking about it, since I was already used to the tree roots imagery for grounding and centering energy.

Connecting to the Sky Power was a little more difficult, but I found that getting outside into the sun really helped. Fortunately, we don’t have too much grey here, even in the winter, so I have been able to actually feel the sun on my face, instead of trying to visualize it. I only had to do that a few times before I could get the visualization down. I’ve always been “solar powered” (which is a good thing to be, if you live in southeast Texas), so I just had to warm up to calling down that power instead of just basking in it like a lizard. (I may have been a lizard in a past life, for as much as I like basking in the sun.)

I love using Ceisiwr Serith’s prayer as the central point of my meditation, when I get both powers fully flowing:

The Waters support and surround me.
The Land extends about me.
The Sky reaches out above me.
At the Center burns a living flame.
(A Book of Pagan Prayer, p. 36-37)

There’s something really centering and powerful about saying that once I get the two powers flowing. It helps me to get a good feel for the mingling of the powers, as opposed to just housing the two currents themselves.

Also, I am looking forward to doing this meditation as an active meditation when I’m putting in my garden, since I’ll be elbow deep in the dirt, but standing in the sun. There’s a very tangible current to the two powers in a garden (or even in a potted plant grown from seeds) – the untapped potential lives in the earth, and is drawn forth and materialized and made orderly by the sun.

Overall I really like this meditation, and I’ve come to do a mini 5 step form of it when I’ve got a few minutes and feel like I need to ground and center at work:

  • relax
  • draw up the Earth Power
  • draw down the Sky Power
  • feel the two currents mingling
  • release

It takes only a minute or two, and it’s a nice desk-visualization. Connecting to the Earth Power is a little hard from the 9th floor, but after a little practice I can usually feel the current in a few breaths. If I was consistent about it, I’d make it a part of my lunch break every day, especially since I bring my lunch, and everyone else in my multi-cubicle goes out most days, so I have the place to myself.

I took to this form of visualization and meditation relatively easily, but I think that’s just a factor of having had a good bit of experience with both visualization and grounding before I came to ADF. This was a new way to experience grounding and centering (particularly the adding in of the Sky Power), but the function is something I was pretty used to doing. I don’t know if I will continue to use it as a daily practice long term, but it does seem to work well for keeping my brain engaged when I’m starting to get distracted.

In ritual, I try to focus on it for longer than I do in my daily practice, since I think it’s a little more important to be truly and fully grounded before attempting magic (which is what opening the gates really is). Sometimes that works and sometimes not – I still get a little anxious before full ADF rituals, so pausing to do this step is something I definitely need to focus on.

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I’m pretty plugged in to being the Druid of this Place. I think it’s important to connect to the Earth – both as a global construct and something we should care for, and as a specific thing that we are entrusted with. My yard is my sacred space, and I can make an impact there even when my impact on the global world is so much smaller. I’m intimately connected with the land around me, and I work to make sure my connection to local spirits is strong and respectful.

For example, my yard is pesticide and herbicide free, and chemical free as often as we can manage it (with the exception of fire ants, which my husband and I are both terribly allergic to. I usually try the grits trick first*, but if that doesn’t work, they get poisoned).  As often as possible, we plant native or semi-native plants, to feed and attract native bugs and birds.

Because of the lack of stuff-that-kills-things, my yard is FULL of spiders, toads, lizards (especially lizards), and the occasional earth snake, brown snake, and even sometimes a snapping turtle, as well as having lots of squirrels and birds in the winter. I love opening the door and seeing the baby lizards sunning on the sidewalk.

I also love to garden. I grow vegetables and herbs, and I have a garden specifically designed for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. While it’s much harder with my new job to plant a profound and interesting and finicky garden, I can almost always get tomatoes and green beans to grow without much prodding. I love the act and art of growing things (though like any gardener, I occasionally kill plants), because it connects me so strongly with the forces of Earth and Life and Death. This year for Lammas I was able to cut down the corn stalks (long dead, but left for that purpose) and it was a really powerful reminder of the cycle of sacrifice and rebirth.

This is one of the points where my Wicca training and Druidry conflict a bit, because in BTW, the God is a God of Nature and the sacrifice of Life and Death and Rebirth. While some variants of Wicca (specifically the non-initiatory traditions) often spend a lot of time with the Earth Mother, I’ve learned to identify the energy of growing things, and their life cycle, as an aspect of male divinity.

Still, the Earth itself is easily something I can identify with as female, even if that particular piece of the agricultural cycle is something I associate with a specific God.

Of course, the Nature Spirits and Land Spirits are of mixed genders, so there’s no problem there. I like leaving offerings for them in my yard. I have an old stump piece from one of the trees we lost after Ike, and it sits up like a table in the back near the fence, so that’s where I leave my offerings. Usually I leave bits of food and drink, as often as possible things that I’ve made myself. If I’m going to live here, I think it’s important to have a good relationship with the other spirits who live here, and make offerings to them in return for their blessings on my house and gardens.

I am, after all, the Druid in this Place, as opposed to That place, or Some Other place. This is where I make my home, so this is the piece of Earth I need to truly connect with. Of course it’s important to take care of the whole earth, to be aware of my footprint on it and make sure I’m doing all I can to honor the life I have here. It’s just also important to me that I specifically plug in to my little corner here in the swamp.

*The Grits Trick: Take grits and sprinkle them liberally around an ant mound. This frequently causes some of the ants to get sick and die (as they eat the grits and then die of bowel impaction), which will cause the mound to move elsewhere. This really only works on relatively small, unestablished ant mounds.

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