The Three Powers Meditation

Dedicant Path requirement #5 is for:

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.

I am glad that ADF included the ‘other form’ alternative, because I have come over time to regard this exercise as the Three Powers meditation.

It really began as part of my morning devotionals which incorporates a short prayer to the well, fire, and tree.  The devotional would include the phrase:

Sacred well, flow within me this day!

So saying, I would then envision the water-like energy of the Earth Mother flowing up into me.  Then:

Sacred fire, burn within me this day!

And with that I envision the flame of the Sky Father burning down into me.  Then:

Sacred tree, grow within me this day!

And so saying, I would envision myself becoming the tree at the crossroads of the world, which drinks the waters of the goddess through its roots and devours the fire of the god through its leaves.  To me this meditation has become very potent indeed, putting me directly at the sacred center of the cosmos.

From its beginnings during my morning devotionals I have taken this to new levels out of doors.   During solitary rituals, and especially standing with a staff in hand, I have felt like I was truly experiencing for a fleeting moment what life is for a tree; the cool waters below me, the fire of the sun on my face, the wind through my branches, birds nesting in my limbs.  These have been some of the most powerful moments of my solitary rites.

Even in non-ritual situations such as doing meditation in park settings I have found this to be quite powerful;  feeling my skin become bark, being casually aware of insects crawling on me, and taking a passive awareness of activity around me while considering the endless cycles of seasons which make up the life of a tree.   Young lovers carve their initials into trees hoping to thereby infuse their relationship with the longevity of the tree, which usually long outlives such infatuations….  and it is this deep life that I find the three powers meditation draws upon for its effect.  Done well, the meditation has an eternal aspect to it, like staring into the night sky, which devours and makes meaningless all everyday cares.

4 thoughts on “The Three Powers Meditation

  1. It always seemed strange to me that ADF still uses the two powers as the default way of approaching meditation. I remember when I first started going through the book, it was very helpful that so much of ADF’s practices and teachings can be organized in triads. In fact, the one place where I remember this not being the case is meditation. So I found myself struggling to understand how that could fit into my triple worldview, and I also started to think of it as Three Powers, with a focus on the way the Tree and everything in the Middle Realm bring the two powers together and turn them into something new. I’m pretty sure there is also a Third Power essay on the ADF website, so this is not a new concern or way of approaching it. I’m very curious to know how the idea of two rather than three powers emerged, and what their reasons are for sticking with this as the default meditation exercise. At the moment, I’m thinking that trying to understand and explain that question will be the focus of my essay, so I hope that is an acceptable interpretation. I guess I’ll find out!

    Even with the shift to three powers rather than two, I have not been able to make any sort of meditation work for me yet. I liked reading how you approach it and how it has worked for you.

    • Thanks Sanil. I think that the tradition of the Two Power meditation is pretty old in Pagan circles now so it may be well enough entrenched that ADF is unwilling to change the tradition. However, I would certainly be surprised if I was the first person to think of it as a Three Power meditation, so I’ll have to go search the ADF site for this essay you are referring to.

      Sorry to hear that you aren’t making much headway with your meditation. However, meditation is really only one path to a goal, and not the only path. I have recently been engaging in my first baby steps in shamanism. Have you considered trying out that path instead?

      • Oh, that makes sense. I didn’t do much in the neo-pagan community, I went from Christopagan to Hellenic recon to ADF, so I’d only ever seen this meditation in an ADF context. Thank you for filling me in there!

        I am very interested in shamanism. It just always seemed that if I couldn’t manage the mental discipline for “simple” meditation, I was probably not ready for shamanism. I finally got a couple books on it anyway, and I’m going to try a few different things. One idea that’s been popping up in a few places for me lately is that people sense the spiritual differently. Some are visual, some auditory, some empathic. I’m very much empathic (empathetic? Blah, spelling) and have a lot of trouble with visualizations in general. I’m thinking of working on a meditative technique for empaths, maybe trying to do the same principles without the word or visual trappings.

        • Well, it has always seemed to me that shamanism is to meditation as the Dionysian is to the Apollonian. They both seek to transcend the ordinary, but one does it by trying to quiet the mind and the other does it by taking off and nuking the mind from orbit. So I really don’t think that it is a case of needing to master one to be able to use the other.

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