...now, in our time, these three rivers —anguish for our world, scientific
breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings— flow together. From the confluence
of these rivers we drink. We awaken to what we once knew: we are alive in a
living Earth, the source of all we are and can achieve. Despite our
conditioning by the industrial society of the last two centuries, we want to name, once again, this world as holy.
(Macy, J., & Young Brown, M., 2014)
For millennia our bodies have responded to the waxing and waning of Grandmother Moon orbiting our flesh and enticing our blood and birth waters outward to life. This unending dance between women, water, and moon is a fluid interaction between the cosmos and we, and it is this primordial magic that first conceived earth's creatures from both tide pools and time.
From the waters of Nu, the primeval ocean of Egyptian myth, to the river Styx, which deceased souls cross on their final journey, from the world-encircling oceanic serpent known as Oceanus or Jormungand, to the celestial river of The Milky Way which flows to the land of the soul, water has always denoted the confines of earthly existence, both at its beginning and at its end, and in both a physical and spiritual sense.
This belief evolved because water is the life force of Mother Earth. Just as blood flows through the veins of our bodies, so water flows through the rivers and oceans of the Earth, in a lovely demonstration of the macrocosm-microcosm relationship: “as above, so below.” No living thing can survive without water, and as birth is heralded by the breaking of the waters, so it was believed that the soul was also carried out of this world by a celestial river. Therefore it is no surprise that water has always held such importance in belief and tradition.
Like all boundaries, those defined by water can be breached. Oceans, rivers, lakes and springs have all been traditionally considered liminal zones - places where the metaphysical boundaries between our world and the spirit world are weak. Crossing of water was often associated with physical and spiritual journeys to other worlds. The Irish folk heroes, Oisin and Bran and also the Japanese hero Urashima all sailed across the ocean to reach a paradisiacal land, and Gawain in the 14th century saga, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, had to cross water to reach the Green Knight's castle, an allusion to the spiritual initiation or test that he was undergoing. "Beyond the seventh wave" was a Celtic metaphor synonymous with the land of the spirit. Continue reading "The Waters of Life"