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The Two Powers Meditation


Of all the requirements of the Dedicants’ Program, the Two Powers stymied me the most, and was a major reason I never completed the DP until now. It wasn’t that I couldn’t grasp it, just that I didn’t like what was in that grasp. I just couldn’t see any way that I could do it within my cosmology.

The problem was that the Two Powers had always been presented to me as Sky and Earth. This had an air of Wicca about it. Nothing wrong with Wicca, mind you, in its own context. But the Indo-European context called for three powers, for land, sea, and sky. How to reconcile two with three? It just didn’t make sense. I didn’t think it even belonged in the DP. I don’t think that this was an unreasonable interpretation of the Two Powers meditation. In the back of my mind, though, there was the nagging of an uncompleted DP, with all that that implied. Something had to be done.

I started to see a way out at Wellspring, 2005, where Ian Corrigan gave a workshop on the Two Powers. I went to it grudgingly, hoping mainly for a loophole I could slip through to complete the DP. Instead, I found a way not out, but through, a way to interpret the Two Powers that was consistent with my own cosmology, which I believe is the Proto-Indo-European one, and that forms the basis of most of my beliefs and rituals.

The breakthrough came with Ian’s suggestion of hand motions to go along with the meditations. Not only was that a great way of reinforcing the ritual, performing it not only with words and images, but with the body; it also inspired me towards a solution to my dilemma. These motions included a cupping of the hands towards the bottom of my trunk, followed by a pulling them up to my heart, and then to my head. This was based on a Celtic cauldron meditation. So the question became, what was being brought up, and what was being poured into each point of the body?

The PIE cosmology, as I see it, involves the basic ADF set of Hallows – well, tree, fire – with the well being the source of Chaos, the tree Cosmos, and the fire the ritual by means by which the two are mediated. Since the ritual is performed on the land, where the tree and well intersect, the three IE realms can collapse into a system of two mediated by a third – Chaos and Cosmos are the Two Powers in a PIE context, and the ritual of the Two Powers meditation being a way of mediating between them. Through the performance of the ritual, then, the mediation takes place in one’s own self.

So the solution was this: what is brought up in one’s cupped hands is the water from the well, the Chaos which feeds the tree. The heart it is brought up to is the fire, which transforms Chaos into the Waters of Life, which can then feed the tree. The head is the divine spot which grows from the tree by means of the feeding.

This is only half the cosmology, though. Cosmos must then give back to Chaos – Yggdrasill must drop mead into the wells, the hazel trees must drop their nuts into the spring. Having been fed by the Waters of Life, ultimately from the well, the tree must return something to the well. This is the way that reciprocity, *ghostíta:t, can be established and maintained within the universe. The PIE word for “Cosmos” is Xártus (*H2értus for the linguists). The root of this is xar- (*H2er-) “join together in a proper and aesthetically pleasing order.” Adding the *-tu- creates an abstract verbal noun, meaning something like “joining together;” not that which does the joining, but the joining itself. The *-s ending is the ending of a masculine, and therefore living, noun. These last two things aren’t just esoteric linguistic information, they’re extremely important for the PIE concept of the Cosmos, and therefore for both the form of the ritual and the understanding to be gained from it. The Xártus is first of all an action, not a thing; the Cosmos is therefore not something upon which something has been performed, nor is it something which is performing an action – it is the action itself.

Opposed to this is Chaos, for which I’ve constructed a PIE word *nxrtóm. This is from the same root, *xar-, but with three differences. First, the ending isn’t *-tu-, it’s *-to-. (The lost of vowel in *xr- and the shift in accent to the second syllable is just something that happens when you add *-to-.) This forms past participles from verbs, indicating that which comes as a result of the action. *Xrtó- would mean “that which has been ordered.” The *-m is the ending of a neuter, and therefore not living, noun. The *n- at the beginning is just a negative suffix, so *nxrtóm is “that stuff which has not been ordered.” Unlike the Xártus, which is an action rather than a thing, then, the nxrtóm is the basic stuff which is ordered in the ongoing Xártus, but hasn’t been yet.

The importance of all of this is to demonstrate the similarities and differences between Chaos (Nxrtóm) and Cosmos (Xártus), as well as aspects of their relationship. Xártus needs the stuff provided by Nxrtóm for it to have something to join together, to *xar-, and Nxrtóm needs some ordered pieces from the Xartus so it can be truly Nxrtóm. (Chaos which was just Chaos would have a sort of order). These two can only exist in relationship with each other, they can only exist in a *ghosti-relationship, they can only exist if they are *ghóst?s with each other. It’s this relationship that the meditation is intended to recapitulate.

I wrote the ritual in Proto-Indo-European not just because I thought it’d be fun (although it was), or because I thought it would be cool (but ain’t it though?), or to show off (but I am). I wanted to emphasize connections between words that are dissimilar in the English, but clearly related in PIE – “Chaos” and “Cosmos” aren’t related, whereas * Nxrtóm and *Xartus” are, and the same is true for “reciprocity” and *ghóstis (there isn’t any equivalent in English). I also wanted to be able to use words that don’t even exist in English. Besides *ghóstis, I wanted to be able to make a distinction between two types of fire, which PIE has distinct words for. There is the inanimate word páxwr (*péH2ur) – fire as stuff- and the animate *hngwnis (*Hxngwnís) – fire as a living thing. (There is also a distinction between inanimate and animate water, and I used the first, *wódr, but the animate wasn’t necessary.) I wanted to be able to distinguish between the fire that was part of the mixture in Nxrtóm from that which was in the heart, something that couldn’t easily be done in English.

There’s a lot of repetition in the ritual: the Nektr pours itself into, feeds, and becomes the Deiwós, and then does the same thing for the Xártus. This repetition and that found in other parts has the theological purpose of stressing that the interactions among the parts of Reality are harmonious with each other; that Reality is truly *xrtóm, put together beautifully. That the ritual was in PIE didn’t make it much harder to memorize because of these parallels. Relying on them to an extent to make the mediation easier to say served to bring home the point.

The subject of this requirement of the DP is supposed to be a record of one’s experiences with the Two Powers meditation, and I’ve spent a lot of time discussing why I wrote it the way I did. The thing is, although I had a basic outline of the ritual at the beginning, after I translated it and started practicing it regularly (several times a day at first), I started making modifications. As anyone who’s done ritual with me knows, that’s standard operating procedure – I’ve been known to show up the day of a grove ritual with changes. There was more to it here, though. The changes were from my increasing understanding of the nature of the PIE ideology, and how that affected our place.

In its beginning, the object of the ritual was to place myself in the center of the Cosmos, to experience the cosmology as it surrounded me. You might say that I intended to become aware, in an intimate way, of the physical (even if mythical) structure of things. What happened instead was a shift to a concentration on the dynamic nature of things, to reality as action rather than structure. I began to realize the truth of Buckminster Fuller’s, “I know I am not a noun, a thing. I seem to be a verb.” This should have been obvious from the nature of the words I discussed above (see, it’s relevant after all), since the point of the construction of *xartus was just that, that it describes something that’s going on, not something that’s already done, and the reality behind *ghostíta:t is an exchanging. It was the enactment of the ritual that made this clear to me.

As this realization sunk in, I decided to emphasize the ghostíta:t element. I took a mystical approach; towards the end of the meditation, I identified myself with ghostíta:t. In some way, I was saying, my nature and that of reciprocity itself were the same.

Walking around Euro Disney, though (really), it hit me that there was a big problem with that. If ghostíta:t is to be the central reality of the PIE ideology, there can’t be a dissolving of any member of the cosmos into one thing, even if that thing is ghostíta:t. Even though one word, ghóstis, is used for both members of a relationship, they are still two, not one; otherwise there couldn’t be the ghosti-relationship going on. I therefore changed the ending. Instead of myself being ghostíta:t, I would be ghóst?s with everything. I wouldn’t be ghostít?t, I would live it. The point of the ritual would be to put myself into relationship with all, while still being separate.

The shift in purpose, from nominal to verbal, was still faithful to my original purpose, to become aware of and to place myself in the center of the (mythical) universe. The difference is that I came to see that center as be defined not by the axis mundi – even though that’s still in the ritual – but by the relationship among the cosmic elements. The dark place, heart, and shining, are there, but more important are the rising, pouring out, feeding, becoming, relating. Each performance of the ritual is a reminder of the centrality of relationship, over and above things, but also of the necessity of the things in order for there to be a relationship at all.

Although the ritual is written for individual performance it could be pretty easily adapted for group work. All that would be needed would be the addition of segments including the group after each of the ones involving the individual. The “hegóm” sections would have to remain, since even while the identity of the group was being established, and thus its role in the on-going cosmic ghostíta:t, the individuality of the members of the grove would have to be acknowledged, so there could be ghostíta:t within the grove. Without ghostíta:t, no grove, but without ghóste:s no ghostíta:t.

One concern I have with the meditation is that it might lead to the same sort of interiorization of ritual that we find in the Upanisads. If the primary ritual of the libation into the fire, and the creation, consumption, and absorption of the Nektr can be done just as well within the body as without, then why bother with external ritual? The falling into disuse of most Vedic ritual might well be repeated.

I think that this can be avoided in two ways. First, by a continued emphasis on the sacredness of the physical common in Paganism, especially Neo-Paganism. In this meditation, this emphasis would find its place in an insistence that whenever possible the hand motions be included, not just the words and images, and that again as much as possible the words be spoken out loud, that they be put into an external form. There is certainly a place for performing the ritual entirely inside, such as when one is on a train or bus. Even then, however, the imagery should include imagery of the hand motions. There is also a place for performing the ritual with just the imagery and the hand motions. I’ve done this myself, and it’s a very powerful experience. It might even have been even more powerful, because it gets me beyond the thinking that accompanies words, a thinking which automatically separates me, decreasing the ghostíta:t aspect.

Second, by keeping in mind that the entire point of the ritual is the establishing of oneself as a ghóste:s. If the meditation is entirely interiorized, there is so much that one is separating out as not even potential ghóste:s. Even if no other person is there, when the meditation is performed with hand motions and spoken words, a communication with the world outside the meditator is established, and thus the possibility of ghostíta:t with that which is in it.

I think it important that at the time the ritual is being performed as individual, even interiorally, it be seen as perfect, that there be no thought of , “well, this isn’t as good as if I were performing it with other people, or out loud.” If, however, we think of Paganism as that religion which is most appropriate to the exact space and time in which one finds oneself (my personal definition of Paganism), a ritual which has to be performed in an interior manner because one is on a bus is no less perfect than one which is performed with the appropriate motions when one is alone or among other Pagans. However, in the latter cases, doing the full-fledged, external version is the most appropriate and therefore the right one to do, so if it is possible to do it that way, the interior versions is inferior – at that time.

I’ve found that I can do a very short version of the ritual, though, simply by imagining the parts of my body and that which is outside of me, and their significance, and the flow among them, and as a result the meaning of the ritual, and the cosmology behind it, are immediately brought not just to mind, but to heart and to body. The ability to do this and the groove that the ritual is wearing in my life have improved my ability to see myself as a member of relationships with others, human and otherwise, to see myself as a ghóstis. I find myself more centered in my everyday life, but the centering is one of relationship, not position, one that’s living, not static. I don’t know how automatic it’s becoming, but at least I’m likely to think of the fact more often, and to be able to see the truth of it, and act on it. I suspect it will help me in my continuing struggle to understand how most other people relate to each other.

It’ll take a while to work all of this out, and I’m sure there will be more modifications of the ritual as I go along. But then, that’s what verbs do.

The ritual is long on paper, but surprisingly short in performance, requiring less than two sides of a paper in two columns each to write out just the words. What makes the script so long is the inclusion of the description of the hand motions and visualizations. As I said before, its apparent length belies the ease with which it could be memorized.

Pronunciation:

Vowels:

[a]: short or unaccented as the “o” in “hot”/long or accented as in “father”

[e]: short or unaccented as in “bet”/long or accented as “a” in “hate”

[i]: short or unaccented as in “bit”/long or accented as in “machine”

[o]: short or unaccented as in “bought” /long or accented as in “rote”

[u]: short or unaccented as the “oo” in “hood”/long or accented as in “lute”

English vowels are actually dipthongs, with slight off-glides. Just like in languages such as Spanish or German, though, PIE vowels are “pure.” There are PIE dipthongs, though:

[ei]: as in “day”

[eu]: this doesn’t exist in English; it’s just the two vowels spoken together quickly.

Consonants:

As in English, except:

[n] and [r], when unaccompanied by vowels, are syllyabic; that is, they function as vowels. [n] is the sound you’d make if someone asked you how to say “n.” [r] is the sound in “fur.”

[ky] and [gy[ are palatalized; that is, they’re pronounced as if there was a slight [y] (IPA [j]) sound after them.

[kw]: like English “qu” (which is one sound, not two).

[gw] is a voiced [kw].

[x] is the voiceless velar fricative found in German “ach.”

[q] is a voiced version of [x], sort of a gargling sound. In the IPA, it’s the sound indicated by the Greek letter gamma.

After each step pause a few moments until you have the idea clear in your mind. Ideally, you should keep your awareness of each thing, adding new ones as you progress through the meditation; you might want to take a second after each new one to envision the previous ones.

Nxrtóm
Chaos
(Hold your hands as far down as they’ll go, with the fingers interlacing and facing down.)

Wódr xapo hésti.
There is water there.
(Visualize water made of particles churning around together in the space below you. Each particle is like an infinitesimal dot. Here and there some clump together temporarily, but soon break apart. As a whole, the water looks like a dark lead.)

Régwes
The dark place; the Well
(Bring your hands up to your solar plexus, transforming them into a cup shape (right hand on top of left) as you do so. A bowl appears, floating on the Chaos.)

Régwes Nxrtó hésti.
The dark place is in/on Chaos.
(Concentrate on the location of the Dark. It is very still.)

Régwes sáxyeti.
The Régwes fills.
(Some of the water seeps into the Régwes; it doesn’t pour, its random movement just brings it the water particles into it.) The Dark fills, but does not overflow, even though the water keeps oozing in.)

Kyé:rd.
The heart.
(Become strongly aware of your heart, as present beneath your breastbone.)

Kyé:rd. sáxyeti.
The heart fills.
(The water from the régwes seeps into your heart, again sluggishly. Bring your hands up to your breastbone, keeping them cupped.)

Hn’gwnis kyé:rdí hésti.
There is a living flame in my heart
(A fire is kindled there.)

Hn’gwnis tó: ghumné sáxyetor.
The heart fills itself with it (either the water or the heart)as a libation.
(Visualize the fire reaching out to the water and bringing it in as you flatten your hands against your breastbone.)

Hn’gwnis tód héuseti.
The fire burns it.
(The water swirls around in the fire and begins to merge with parts of it.)

Hn’gwnis tód méyeti.
The fire changes it.
(The merging continues.)

Hngwí: tód gwiqó:ti
The fire brings it to life.
(Almost there.)

Tód nektr’m bhu:yéti.
It becomes Nekter
(The water is now completely changed; mixed in with the fire is a burning water, gold in color now, that moves with its own life.

Deiwós.
The Shining.
(A point of bright light shines in the center top of your head.)

Nektr’ Deiwóm brgyhyéti.
The Nekter rises to the Shining.
(Cup your hands, with open part downward, and pressed against your forehead. The Nekter flows up and fills them. It does not pour out downward because it is flaming.)

Nektr’ Deiwóm gyhéwetor.
Nekter pours itself as a libation into the Shining.
(Bring your hands together against your brow, just as you did against your heart earlier. The Nekter flows into the Deiwós.)

Nektr’ deiwóom dhé:useti.
Nekter feeds the Shining.
(The Nekter fills the spaces between its infinitesimal pieces of the light (photons, quanta, or however you wish to imagine them)).

Nektr’ deiwóm bhu:yéti.
Nekter becomes the Shining.
(The Nekter fuses with the bits of light, so that they are indistinguishable.)

Xártus.

Deiwós Xárte:u hésti.
The divine is in the Xartus.
(Separate your hands and move them to the side, so that your upper arms end up parallel to the ground, your lower arms at a right angle to them, and your hands with open palms facing front. (The orans position.) As you do so, imagine threads coming with your hands from the light in your brow. At each point along the way, infinite threads separate, and from each point of those threads, an infinite number again, and so on. As each thread meets with each other, they link, but remain separate threads, until by the time your hands are still there is a net that fills the universe with light.)

Nektr’ Xártum gyhéwetor.
Nekter pours itself as a libation into the Xartus.
(The Nekter in your brow flows down the threads, running along them like water would run over the threads in a net.)

Nektr’ Xártum dhé:luseti.
Nekter feeds the Xartus.
(The Nekter flows into the infinitesimal spaces between each of the nodes of the net.)

Nektr’ Xártum bhuyéti.
Nekter becomes the Xartus.
(The Nekter fuses with the nodes, so that they are indistinguishable.)

Xártus Nektré: gwé:iti.
The Xartus lives through the Nekter.

Xártus sme: gwéiqoti.
May the Xartus truly live.
(You are aware of the living, changing quality of the Xartus. The threads move and swirl, and continue to grow.)

Hegyóm.
I.
(Bring your hands together to touch your forehead. Swrling threads of the Xartus come along with them.)

Hegyóm Xartéu hésti.
I am in the Xartus.

Xártus mé: gyhéwetor.
The Xártus pours itself into me.
(The threads enter into your body and being to move through it.)

Xártus mé: dhé:luseti.
The Xartus feeds me.
(The threads flow into the infinitesimal points between each of those that make up you.)

Xrtéus gwéimi.
I live through the Xartus.

Xártum gwéimi.
I live the Xartus.
(Bring your arms back into the orans position. The threads come with your fingers again, interweaving with each other and with the ones aleady there.

Xártum sme: gwéyo:.
May I truly live the Xartus.
(You are aware of the living, changing quality of the Xartus.)

Gylákt.
Milk.
(Bring your forearms down so that they too are parallel to the floor, with your hands cupped upward.)

Gylákt Xarté:u xáugeti.
Milk grows in the Xartus.
(Each point of the Xartus web begins to ooze with milk, so that the milk runs along the threads.)

Gy;lákt Nektr’ Xrtóus hésti.
Milk is the Nekter of the Xartus.
(The milk fills your hands.)

Gylákt Xrtóus gyhéwetor.
Milk pours itself as a libation from the Xartus.
(Turn your hands so the milk starts to pour from them. No matter how much pours out, it continues to pour.)

Nériom nigyhéwetor.
It pours itself as a libation down into the below.
(Bring your arms down, so that your hands are laid on top of each other as a bowl again, except this time with the left on top of the right. Draw the milk down with your hands.)

Régwes.
(Your cupped hands are again the dark place.)

Deiwós
(Still holding the image of the Régwes in your mind, add the shining light in your brow. The Xartus twines through it, so that the two are intimately commingled, but still separate.

Gy&lákt Deiwosyó Régwes ghéwetor.
The milk pours itself from the Shining into the Dark.
(The milk that is in the Deiwós (because of its place in the Xártus, pours down the axis which connects the Deiwós and the Régwes).

Deiwós gylákt régwes i dédo:ti.
The Shining gives the milk to the regwes.
(The milk fills your cupped hands. It continues to pour, even when your hands are full, but doesn’t overflow.)

Dednté ghóste:s bhuyónti.
By the giving they become ghoste:s.
(Concentrate on the flowing downwards of the milk.)

Deiwóskwe régweskwe ghóste:s sénti.
The Shining and the Dark are ghoste:s.
(Concentrate on the vertical line which connects the Deiwós and the Régwes.)

Nxrtóm.
(Bring your hands together at their tops so your fingers are intertwined. Again imagine the water below.)

Xártus
(Become closely aware of the network of threads again, with the milk running itself over them.

Gylákt Xrtóus Nxrtóm ghéwetor.
The milk pours itself into Chaos.
(The milk begins to pour down the threads and onto your fingers.)

Xártus gylákt nxrtí dédo:ti.
The Xartus gives milk to Chaos.
(The milk pours from your fingers into darkness.)

Dednté ghóste:s bhuyónti.
By the giving they become ghoste:s.
(The milk mixes in with the water.)

Xártuskwe nxrtómkwe ghóste:s sénti.
The Xartus and Chaos are ghoste:s.
(Concentrate on the web that is the Xartus uniting with the darkness which is in the Chaos.)

Régwes
(Cup your hands again. They fill again, but this time the water is mixed with milk.)

Deiwós
(Become aware of the shining in your head.)

Hn’gwnis.
(Become aware of the fire in your heart again. Bring your hands up to your heart, keeping them cupped.)

Régwes Deiwí hn’gwní: dédo:ti.
The Dark gives to the Shining through the fire.
(The liquid pours out from your cupped hands into the fire, which burns more brightly.)

Dednté ghóste:s bhuyónti.
By the giving they become ghóste:s.
(Concentrate on how the liquid in the vertical line which connects the Deiwós and the Régwes is in constant motion.)

Hngwí: ghóste:s sénti.
By means of the fire they are ghóste:s.
(Concentrate on the line itself.)

Hngwí: pnkwú:s ghóste:s pnkwú: s ghóst:es sénti.
Through the fire all is ghóste:s with all.
(Tendrils reach out from the fire throughout your body.)

Ghostíta:t hngwí: hésti.
Through the fire, there is hospitality.
(The tendrils form a net, which holds the particles of your body, or is formed from the spaces between them. The net continues to move, though, as the flowing of the Nekter and milk mixture flows through the tendrils.)

Hn’gw&is kyé:rdimoi hésti.
The fire is in my heart.
(Flatten your hands against your breastbone; the liquid pours from them into the fire.)

Régwes deiwí kyrdémoi dédo:ti.
The dark gives to the shining through my heart.
(Concentrate on how the liquid in the vertical line which connects the Deiwós and the Régwes is in constant motion.)

Dednté ghóste:s bhuyónti.
By the giving they become ghóste:s.
(Concentrate on the line itself.)

Kyé:rdimoi ghóste:s s&eacut;nti.
In my heart they are ghóste:s.
(The liquid flowing from each end of the vertical line (milk from the Deiwós, fire/water/milk mixture from the regwés) passes through the fire on their way to the other end.)

Kyé: rdimoi pnkwú: s ghóste:s pnkwú: s sénti.
In my heart all are ghostés with all.
(The liquids reach their ends, and fill them.)

Ghostíta:t kyé:rdimoi hésti.
Ghostíta:t is in my heart.
(Concentrate on the flowing.)

Ghostíta:t gwé:mi.
I live ghostíta:t.
(Your body as a living, growing process takes part in ghostíta:t.)

Ghostíta:t sme: gwéyo:.
May I truly live ghostíta:t.

Tód héstu.
So be it.