Monthly Archives: June 2016
Our Own Druidry defines integrity as,
Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence.
Merriam-Webster defines integrity as,
Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.
Integrity to me is, at its core, about honesty to oneself. If one is honest to oneself, trustworthiness will follow by default. It is open to debate how much honesty involves telling literal truths at all times. The important thing is whether or not the self believes their choices to be fair and trustworthy. This is what being honest to oneself means. As for oath-keeping, I do not see it to be an inherently necessary attribute of integrity, although it often accompanies it.
Since honesty to oneself is the key to integrity, it follows that internal honesty can and should overrule an oath if a person deems their oath to contradict with their morals. This does not mean that if one breaks an oath that they will be free from repercussion. Oath keeping is an inherently internal and external affair. No amount of self-honesty can save one from the consequences of breaking an oath. Oath-making is serious business. But we are humans and prone to making bad decisions, including oaths, if even with the best of intentions at the time of making them. To have integrity relative to oaths is to make one and potentially break it while acting with self-honesty on both counts. In other words, to have integrity is to be willing to admit when we are wrong and to accept the consequences. Keeping an oath after one comes to believe it to be immoral in order to avoid the repercussions of breaking it is not an example of integrity.
This Midsummer high day marks my one year anniversary with the Silver Branch Golden Horn grove and it is my eighth high day as a Dedicant. I have come a long way since I first showed up for public ritual a year ago, nervous, anxious, and entirely ungrounded. This year, I felt exceptionally grounded, which resulted in a more meaningful and pleasant experience than I have ever had previously.
We celebrated Midsummer on the Saturday before the solstice. It was a 100 ºF day, but the shade under our grove of trees made it bearable. Our patron and gatekeeper this high day was Heimdall. Although an unconventional choice of patron for this day, I thought it wonderful that we honored him outside of his usual gatekeeping duties. Because the June moon is known, among other names, as the strawberry moon, and because it would be full on the solstice, I made a personal offering of strawberry shortcake to Móna. The strawberries were extra special because they were my very first garden produce. they were tiny and I only had three in total, but I was proud of them nonetheless. I have been struggling to get a garden growing this year, so I also offered a strawberry to the nature spirits as a thank you for my first fruits this year.
The ritual, overall, went very well. Despite a few loud vehicles and seedy sorts hanging around in the park near us, we all felt a lot of positive energy raised during ritual. The Kindreds, too, were pleased, according to the omens. We asked the Shining Ones for a message about the upcoming summer season and received Raido, the rune of journeys both physical and spiritual. We asked the ancestors what lessons there were to learn at this time and received Elhaz, a rune we also received last time and one that calls for spiritual development. We asked the Nature spirits how we can live in harmony with them and received Ehwaz, the rune of trust and teamwork. All of these omens were interpreted as positive. In other good news, myself and fellow grove attendee Rae were admitted as official members of the grove on this day.
The summer solstice is known variably as Midsummer or Litha. As the longest day of the year, celebrations usually involve honoring a sun deity and building bonfires to represent the light and heat of the sun. It is also a popular tradition to gather herbs for medicinal and magical use, since they, like the sun, are thought to be at their most potent (Wodening, 112).
At Midsummer, the Earth is in full bloom, and green is the reigning color. Some believe this is when the Green Man, or Oak King, is at the height of his reign, while others believe the Holly King takes over at Midsummer. No matter which version of the myth you subscribe to, there is no denying the significance of the Green Man at Midsummer.
Similar to the spring and autumn cross-quarters, Midsummer is thought to be a time when the veil between the worlds in thin. But where the autumn cross-quarter is dedicated to the Dead and the spring cross-quarter to the witches, Midsummer is for the Fae. This may explain Shakespeare’s season of choice for his fairy-centric play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Wodening, Swain. Path to the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism for Beginners. Huntsville, MO: Wednesbury Shire, 2012. Print.
Do you do this meditation as your daily meditation, or as part of daily rituals?
I use the Two-Powers meditation more often than not as part of my daily rituals, though when I am short on time I will choose between either the Two-Powers or another meditation. I prefer to preface all other meditations with the Two-Powers when I have time. I haven’t found the accelerated versions of the Two Powers to be effective for me, so if I am short on time, I skip it all together.
Apart from formal meditation time and daily rituals, if I have a quiet moment during my day, I will practice different Two-Powers techniqiues, such as the accelerated versions or just different visualizations.
Can you describe how it feels?
For quite some time, it didn’t feel like it is supposed to. When I say “supposed to,” I refer to its function as a grounding and centering activity. I was too distracted sorting out the particulars of my visualization to feel grounded or centered. I struggled to match up guided versions of the meditation with my exact sitting or standing position. Sitting cross legged on the floor with a guide telling me to imagine the Earth Power rising up through my feet was distracting. Similarly, sitting in a chair drawing it up from both my tailbone and feet was too much to visualize at once. My seat being higher than my feet made the symmetry off and only imagining one working over the other made me feel off balance. I tried recording my own guide and using no guide at all but my memory. No matter how I chose to approach it, I left the experience feeling less grounded than I did coming into it.
I decided to put the Two Powers meditation on hold for a few weeks, until I could master a simple breath-work meditation. Multiple sources recommend diving right into visualization activities. I have no trouble with visualization in-and-of-itself, but pairing it with meditation was too much for me to handle at once. Separating the two was a big help to me.
Once I brought the Two Powers back into play, they produced a significantly more fulfilling experience than they had originally. I still had to sort out some kinks with the visualizations and my physical situation, but I could manage them without disrupting the entire meditation.
What parts of the meditation move you the most? The least? Does one power or the other seem stronger?
I can’t ascribe a preference to one over the other, at least not as a singular answer. On some days, both are equally as strong, and on other days, one feels more powerful than the other. I assume this is because I am in greater need of one or the other on any given day.
Months ago, I might have said that I am most moved by the Sky Power, which I envision as my personal pole star. That is, until I realized that it wasn’t the Sky Power itself that moved me, but the meeting of the Two Powers which takes place after I have already drawn up the Earth power.
Write a short paragraph on how the Sky Power is masculine and the Earth Power is feminine. Now, write another short paragraph about how the Sky Power is feminine and the Earth Power is masculine. Can you make both arguments? Which one convinces you more? Is either worth arguing?
Sky Power as masculine and Earth Power as feminine:
- Mother Earth vs Father Sky mythology
- Chaotic feminien vs. Ordered masculine
- Waters come from the Earth. Water = feminine
- Fire comes from the Sky. Fire = Masculine
- Not all mythologies associate fire and sky with masculine, or Earth with the feminine.
- The moon is in the sky and is, according to the neopagan perspective, feminine.
- The Great Rite usually involves a Moon/Star/Sky goddess mating with the Horned God of the Earth.
- The earliest IE cultures recognized a Sun goddess and Moon God => fire=feminine, water = masculine.
The Sky Power is sometimes described as “ordering” and the Earth Power is sometimes described as “chaotic”. Do you feel this is an accurate description of the Powers?
The way I personally visualize the Two Powers does indeed lend an ordering aspect to the Sky Power and a chaotic one to the Earth power, but I don’t see the either power as inherently one or the other. The chaos or order of either power depends entirely on perspective. The sky can look orderly at a particular point in time, or it can be chaotic in the form of star death and rebirth, thunderstorms, etc. The Earth as well can be either depending on perspective. The Earth element is attributed to the stable, grounded astrological signs. The Earth is the grounding force of the Two Powers and grounding is an ordered state of being.
If you have chosen a hearth culture, how does the mythology of that culture embrace the Two Powers?
I don’t know if the Anglo-Saxon lore matches up with Norse in this case, but I am aware that some following the Norse path envision the two powers as Fire and Ice. I do not find this presentation effective for my own meditations. I like to keep a Yin/Yang perspective whenever possible and I view Fire and Ice as too binary for my own Two Powers meditation.