Day 61: Contemplative Day, Learning about Power

Meditative Question: What is power?
Symbolic Color: Red
Symbolic Direction: South

Funny thing, in all my years of studying Wicca, I’ve quite forgotten about power.  So many people are drawn to the religion–or at least the magic–because they seek power over something, whether it be other people, their finances, their love lives, or what have you.  Power is a major draw.

But the question of what power exactly is, is what Roderick has us tackle today.  He starts off his discussion by paraphrasing Starhawk.  “Power in our culture assumes three distinct forms.  Our power forms include ‘power over,’ ‘power with,’ and ‘power from within.'”

Power over, as Roderick explains, is the hierarchical model that Westerners have become so familiar with.  It is also a structure removed from the patterns of nature.  It comes from domination, control, and compliance.  One person or group sets the rules and suppresses the experiences of others.  Power with, on the other hand, “encourages shared, interdependent power and functions similarly to the symbiotic and interdependent systems found in nature.  Power with had it’s roots in power from within–that is, it “starts from an individual’s understanding that he or she is part of a vast, cosmic whole.”

With this in mind Roderick asks us to perform a meditation:

Exercise:

Find a comfortable, meditative position in a quiet space facing the south.  Light a red candle, set it before you, and cast your gaze upon the flickering flame.  Meanwhile, hold the meditative question firmly, as though you were gripping it with your abdominal muscles.  Relax your shoulders and arms and breathe normally.  Sit holding the question for 20 minutes or more.

Instead of trying to logically answer the question at the conclusion of one meditative sitting, work to absorb the question into your spiritual center.  Allow your body, mind, and spirit to become this question and take it with you into the world.  Eat, sleep, work, and play as the question.  Over time, a shift in your perception will take place and you will realize your own answer.

I’m having a very difficult time sinking into meditation these days.  It could be a factor of any one of a number of things:  I don’t have enough practice, I’m practicing too much Kundalini meditation with its mudras and mantras, I hurt.  Frankly, I’m more apt to go with one and three.  I just don’t have enough practice in Western meditation to be very effective with it.  I will need to start a routine.  Also, my back is freaking killing me.  It’s not immobilizing, but if I sit for very long…oh dear gods.

So sitting for this meditation was getting me nowhere.  I eventually went to lying down, but it was still difficult to quiet my mind.  I think I spent about 40 minutes trying to get “in the zone.”  I don’t think I ever quite succeeded, but an answer (of sorts) did come to me.

I think a part of power is desire.  In a way, it’s the manifestation of desire.  If you don’t want to do something, you won’t.  And the ‘do’ is power.  It’s action, a causal agent.  A catalyst of change.  Creation.

In his article on magic for the Llewellyn Encyclopedia, Donald Tyson said that “This act of pulling a possibility from the well of potential into being is an act of creation.”  The pulling is desire, the actuality is power.  Yet, we must also be aware of how we manifest the power–whether it be in the patriarchal ‘power over’ or the matriarchal ‘power with’–and accept what the implications of that decision may be.  The sum total of that is magic.

*****

Whoa, I just went back to read my response to the last contemplative day (#33–What is at the center of knowledge?).  I’d completely forgotten the question seeing as I did the exercise on July 30th of last year.  The first time I’d attempted that question even earlier–July 6th of 2007–I’d arrived at desire as the center of knowledge.  The next year, I noted that I needed desire, reception, and strength to pursue knowledge.  Now I see that we need desire, reception, and strength to wield the power to create magic.

I’m seeing some common elements here.

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