The two powers are the power of fire and water, which are important catalysts in the creation of the cosmos for I.E. cultures. The water comes from deep within the earth. It is nourishing, as the actual waters within the earth are full of nutrients to sustain life. The fire comes from the sun and the other stars. The fire energy is about the warmth and heat necessary for life. The Two Powers are part of I.E. cosmology, but they are also literally necessary for life on earth. The fire and water that create life are literally all around us in bonfires, hearth fires, wildfires, rivers, rain, and the ocean.
It’s easy to adapt the Two Powers to the Norse culture. In the creation story, there is a wall of fire and a wall of ice, and there is a large valley between them. As the fire melted the ice, the first giant, Ymir, and the great cow emerged from the ice. And this cosmology generally reflected life for the Norse as well. Ice generally represented the giants that wreak havoc and are the enemies of the gods. The icy landscape was filled with dangers for the Norse people. Likewise, the winter solstice, and the sun’s return after a dark winter, was a particularly important holiday. According to the Eddas, Ragnarök comes when a wolf swallows the sun. So a battle of sorts between ice and fire was everyday reality for the Norse, and it featured heavily in their lore.
ADF ritual is set up in a very specific way. It is orthopraxic so that individual Groves can have their own spin on a ritual, but so that any ADF member will know what is going on at that ritual. For instance, I’ve participated in rituals with my grove in NYC and also with groves in Ohio. Stone Creek Grove and Inis Ull Grove have very different styles of ritual. But I was never lost in any ritual because of the Core Order of Ritual, which creates sacred space. The very first step is the Two Powers. This is often called “Establishing a Group Mind.” Everyone present gets a chance to mentally calm down and prepare themselves for the ritual. And since the meditation is the same, it is easy for me to follow the meditation no matter who is saying it. That helps a lot when you interact with other groves.
My own experience with the Two Powers has changed over the last year. I’ve been doing the 2P meditation for about a year and a half now. At first it was mechanical and difficult to really visualize the waters moving up each part of my body. My visualization might completely miss one of my arms, or something. I also like how the waters and the starlight/fire are complementary opposites. The waters are dark, (perhaps) feminine, and full of potential; the fire is bright, (perhaps) masculine, and the stars are set in their path. Both concepts are important for the individual. And because of my regular practice using the 2P, I feel calm and ready for ritual after this meditation, which makes the ritual all the more enjoyable.