“At the end of February 2016, El Nino continues to exert its influence across the earth and is expected to continue at least through spring of 2016. February was the warmest February on record (137 year history) for the earth, according to NOAA and NASA. In Europe, drought conditions further intensified around the Mediterranean Sea this month. In Asia, drought remains entrenched across the Indian sub-continent, around Mongolia, and in the West. Tree ring research in the Middle East indicate the present drought, beginning in 1998, is likely the most severe in the last 900 years, according to NASA. In Vietnam, the Mekong River is at its lowest level since 1926. In Africa, short-term drought intensified again this month in the northern portion of the continent, around the Mediterranean, and remains intense in the South. In Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls are being affected by the Zambezi River flowing at a 30-year low. If the drought continues, downstream hydroelectric power is expected to be reduced or stopped in the next six months. In Morocco, drought has reduced the wheat harvest by half. In North America, drought remains entrenched in the higher latitudes, while the Southwestern U.S. experienced some drying. In the US Pacific Northwest, an ample snowpack has improved, and is expected to further improve, drought conditions there. In South America, drought remains in the northern part of the continent while the South saw much-needed rain again this month. In Colombia, farmers from the Bolivar Province have abandoned their land after drought ruined their crops. In Oceana, drought continues in Southern Australia and Papua New Guinea. Australian beef sales to the U.S. have increased over the past three years, while drought in the U.S. Southwest reduced livestock there.” source
These are troubling times, globally. Where I live, in Alberta, we are experiencing a shortage of spring rains, again. I have no illusions surrounding the loss of water and global climate change. I turn my shamanic eyes to drought. Throughout the years I have led, and been a part of, water ceremonies. Most have been successful in bringing rain to our area.
Water is fundamental to creating and sustaining of life. As a result of this, water is most often symbolically regarded as the Great Mother, or the prima materia, the universal womb. As the ultimate source of life, water is associated with birthing, fertility, and the feminine/yin, and is connected to goddesses, and other mythological female creatures. Equally present, however, are myths regarding male deities, for whom, control of the waters is central to their existence. In my journeys I have encountered masculine and feminine spirits, who have presented themselves to me, as the keeper of the water. It is never lost on me, there are so many versions of prima materia, depending on where we live. Many of our associations are available to us in the Collective Unconscious. To say one element is ruled by either a masculine or feminine deity, is dependent upon which spiritual reality you ascribe to.
I have often found water spirits express the dual nature of water. Examples: Water sprites were tempters of evil, embodying both water’s life-giving and destructive properties, while the Naiads, Nereids, and sirens of Greek mythology were envisioned dualistically, emerging as either shy nymphs or dangerous, luring creatures.
Like water’s mutable scientific properties, its symbolic meaning is variable. Water is the source of all life, and it also has the power to drown and destroy.Water teaches us about fluidity – nonresistance. Water shows us how to be open to our emotions. As water flows around rocks, bends, trees etc., it teaches us to be fluid and more in our own emotions.
The Mother Moon shows us her influence on water, she controls the ebb and flow of water, if we take this one step further, she controls, or influences, the ebb and flow of our own life river; meaning our blood. In journeys to Water, I encourage myself, and others, to open to water,and trust the Spirit of Water. Water has taught me to move within myself while practicing faith and trust, not only in myself, but the Spirit of Water also. I trust that we, like water, are a part of the whole, and we are a small part of something much bigger than ourselves. Its paradoxical nature lends to the notion of water, specifically immersion in water, as being a return to the primordial state. This is experienced through water’s many manifestations:
- Rain (fertility)
- Springs (the supernatural)
- Vast, undifferentiated seas (the primordial state, birth, and rebirth)
- Dark depths of the ocean (death, shedding of the old)
- Raging billows and waves (chaos, power, formlessness, destruction)
- Waterfalls (transition, the unification of feminine and masculine).
- Dualist View of Water Symbolism
Symbolic Water Meanings
Symbolically, water represents a return to the primordial state, a death of the old and rebirth of the new. J.E. Cirlot’s A Dictionary of Symbols p. 165 describes the following “Water is, of all the elements, the most clearly transitional… By analogy, water stands as a “meditation” between life and death, with a two way positive and negative flow of creation and destruction… Transparent death…stands in particular for the communicating link between the surface and the abyss. It can therefore be said that water enjoins the two images”.
The symbolic mixture of water and wine amplifies the element’s dual nature, indicating the mingling of water (passive/feminine) and fire (active/masculine), and of human and divine.
On matters of life and death, traversing a waterway can symbolize crossing over from life to death. In the Greek underworld, the ferryman known as Charon carried souls over the river Styx to the realm of the dead. In ancient Egypt, it was customary to bring the deceased Pharaoh across the Nile River to the west, a ritual of crossing over to the after world.
In analytic psychology, water is the primary symbol of the feminine. This is derived from water’s fluid quality, portraying the dynamic, fluid female side of the personality. For many psychological and spiritual traditions, water also represents the power of the unconscious and the deeper layers of the psyche. In dreams, birth is often depicted using water imagery.
Throughout the ages, water has grown to symbolize many things to many cultures. At the crux of it all, it is that from which all life springs, and in the same moment is the grave of all things.