WATER IS LIFE – PART 2
© 2019 by Marsha Silvestri
Water – An Essential Nutrient for Life
Today's LifeBlog post continues with Part 2 last week's topic “Water is Life”.
Part 1 focussed on the growing global water crises, its impact on the environment, offering practical solutions, tips and methods to help conserve, preserve and protect our most valuable resource. In this post I explore the physical and biological life enhancing qualities of water, plus discuss its energetic, symbolic and spiritual significance.
Mni Wichoni - the Lakota water blessing chanted throughout the stand-down at Standing Rock, means “Water is Life”. Although it was a peaceful protest, the Native Americans distinguished their purpose as “water protectors” rather than being identified as “protestors”.
In our modern western culture, too often water is treated as a commodity, taken for granted, wasted, polluted, diverted, privatized, exploited for industry, war or control over populations. The opposite is true of many indigenous and ancient multicultural societies who honor and value water for what it is - a sacred, essential element for life.
Our bodies are made up of 50–75% water, having the highest levels at infancy, and decreasing with age. It's possible to survive about 3 weeks without food, but without water most people would die after 3 days. Water is essential for our organs to function, for energy, vitality, suppleness and beauty. For skin and brain elasticity it's vital to stay well hydrated. Aging, dry rough skin, wrinkles, even conditions like dementia, can be caused or worsened by a lack of adequate hydration, where the brain actually shrinks from a loss of water. People living in dry desert climates tend to age much faster than those living in moist, cool, rainy climates.
Water rituals, fasting and other cleansing practices help to purify, detoxify and restore the body. Epsom salt baths, essential oils, neti and panchakarma are used in healing and rejuvenation therapies to help cleanse and balance the physical body, mind and spirit. We can connect to the electromagnetic energy of the Earth through bathing in natural bodies of water.
Water is used in many religions and spiritual traditions, in cleansing rites, ritual baths, initiations, sacraments and blessings to represent purification.
Native American sweat lodge ceremonies accelerate the purification and detoxification of the body through high heat, similar to a sauna, causing the body to excrete toxins through the skin and sweat while replenishing with pure water. Steam baths are another purification method using water vapors for cleansing and eliminating toxins.
In the Catholic faith, Holy Water is believed to be blessed by God. In baptism, water is either poured over the head, or a convert is immersed in water as a symbol of rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christian and Jewish scriptures are both rich with symbolism and stories pertaining to water. In the creation story, God's spirit hovers over the waters in the creation of the world. This can be symbolic of human birth from the amniotic fluids of the womb. In the story of the great flood of Noah, water covers the Earth to cleanse it from past evils to re-start the human race. Jesus walking on water represents faith, as do stories of miracles, turning water to wine and healings. Christ refers to himself as “living water” to a woman at the Samaritan well, and on the cross blood and water flows from his wound.
According to Ayurveda, water represents the Rasa Dhatu element, the plasma or primary water of the body. Rasa means juice, sap or liquid, and is associated with the lymph fluid, interstitial fluids, breast milk, menstrual fluids, spinal cerebral fluids, mucus membranes, plus other watery secretions, tears, urine, sweat and saliva. Rasa also relates to nourishment, being satisfied and satiated as ones basic needs are met. Water is necessary for normal physical functioning, flexibility, balance, vitality, longevity, and the purification and elimination process. Water is also intrinsic in the creation of life, semen and ejaculatory fluids and the amniotic fluids of pregnancy. The second chakra, the energy center of sex and creativity, is ruled and balanced by the water element.
Rasa also relates to emotions of desire, love, feelings, the Lunar cycles, femininity, fertility, the quality of devotion and divinity. Many cultures express their respect of the waters through sacred spiritual practices honoring mythological divine personalities, such as the feminine water Goddesses of the Yoruba and Ifá traditions practiced throughout the African diaspora.
In my studies of Afro-Brazilian dance, the entity I most strongly resonated with was Iemanja, Goddess of the oceans, seas and salt waters (aka: Yemanjá, Yemoja, Yemaya, Yemonja, Yemowo, Yemalla, Yemayah, Sirena, Janaina…). She represents the Divine Mother energy, protector of children, fertility and prosperity. She's also vain, sensual and beautiful, adorned with silver, jewels, shells, mirrors, perfume, flowers, wearing watery colors of blues, turquoise, often depicted as a mermaid. For years I've been a regular participant of the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, the largest art parade in the USA, where hundreds of costumed artists converge at the beach to celebrate the Summer Solstice official opening of the beach season. The celebration allows me to fully express my Iemanja spirit.
One of my favorite festivals is the Festa de Iemanja. Each year on February 2nd at Rio Vermelho Beach in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, thousands gather to celebrate with processions, music, singing, dancing and ceremonies. Devotees dressed in white, fill baskets with flowers, perfume, gifts and prayers asking for blessings, love, prosperity or protection. These offerings are piled onto boats, sailed in a procession far out to sea, deposited into the ocean. Legend has it, if Iemanja is pleased with the gifts, the giver's prayers will be granted. If the gifts return washed back to shore, it means she rejected them and did not give her blessing. In Rio she is celebrated on New Year's Eve with celebrants wearing white, bringing candles and flowers to the beach with prayers for a prosperous New Year.
Divination readings revealed Iemanja, as my primary personal orixa, and Oxum (another water Goddess of rivers and fresh waters) as my secondary protector spirit. Oxum (aka Oshun) is the Goddess of sweet waters, fresh water lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and springs. She's voluptuous, sensual, soft and sweetness with honey-colored skin, her colors are gold, yellow, pink, orange and amber. She's beautiful, vain, jealous, loves perfume, makeup, lipstick, combs, jewels, mirrors, flowers, wealth and objects of adornment. These feminine water orixas have many similar qualities and associations.
I see correlations between these African deities and Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth, beauty, purity (sattva), prosperity and good fortune. Lakshmi is also associated with the water element and the role of compassionate mother. She's typically depicted standing or seated on a pink lotus blossom, floating in fresh waters pouring forth an abundance of golden coins. Aphrodite, Isis and Anuket, are a few more water Goddesses from Greek and Egyptian traditions.
February 2nd is also considered Midwinter Day, Imbolc or the Feast Day of the fertility Goddess St. Brigid (the bride) according to Gaelic and Celtic traditions. It marks the beginning of spring as the midway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. One significance of Imbolc involves washing or cleansing oneself, as in a ritual cleansing. Visitors to local holy wells pray for health, leaving offerings of coins for some of the water to bless their homes.
The circle*, a universal symbol for water, also symbolizes female energy, love, unity, infinity, eggs, seeds, coins, cells, droplets … (*see more about circles from my earlier LifeBlog post on yantras). Water takes different forms, being able to change from liquid to solid to vapor, and is associated with many qualities. It can be considered as passive, receptive, fluid, sustaining, subconscious, changeable, creative and generative. Some less-desirable qualities can include weakness, a lack of stability or being wishy-washy and nebulous as traits of the astrological sign of Pisces.
In western astrology, the 12 zodiac signs are represented by three each of 4 elements, Earth, Fire, Air and Water. The 3 water signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are considered very emotional, impulsive, protective and fertile signs. Cancers, ruled by the Moon, are characterized by sensitivity, nurturing, mothering and moodiness. The Moon has a powerful influence over the waters of the planet, the tides, and the fluids of the human body, particularly female menstrual cycle, (aka the Moon cycle) that correlates with the 28-day Lunar cycle. In agriculture, traditionally the optimal time for planting crops for growth is when the Moon is waxing in a water sign. Plutonian Scorpios are known for their depth, passion, obsession, intuition and intensity. Pisces, ruled by Neptune, King of the sea, rules the subconscious, dreams, imagination, compassion and romance…. These are all qualities also having associations with water.
In Chinese Astrology, each of the 12 zodiac animals have a water year, along with each of the other elements which vary slightly in character for each animal. For example: the water snake is highly intuitive, psychic, secretive and good with business, where a fire snake is more charismatic, magnetic and energetic having stronger fiery qualities. An Earth snake is more practical and down to Earth.
In the ancient Chinese tradition of Feng Shui, the water element is represented by the color black, which also represents a flow of money or prosperity, associated with the northern direction of the 8-sided bagua. The north also represents midwinter. (Here again we find references to Feb 2nd, money, prosperity and water). Specific cures to promote improved wealth or prosperity recommend placing a water fountain or fish bowl or tank with goldfish in the Kan (north) section of a home space or room. Ponds or pools of water are recommended to improve the flow of energy in gardens.
Historically water was associated with wealth and money. Many words related to finances have their origins from water associations. The word currency relates to “river currents flowing to the sea”. Currency is the control of human energy through banking. Banks relate to river banks that hold the water, as financial banks hold money. Metaphors speaking of cash flow, floating a loan, drowning in debt, being under water, the money dried up, sale / sail, ownership / shipping, reserves / reservoirs, all have linguistic associations to water.
Other common water metaphors include: the “fountain of youth”, which represents rejuvenation, restoration and the secret to longevity. Fountains are often associated with a source of knowledge a “well of knowledge” or “thirst for knowledge”. Springs are associated with wellness, “wellsprings’ and the Spring season, which represents rebirth and renewal, which is usually the rainy season, and is associated with fresh water “springs”…
All water is not created equal. There is much debate about consuming different types of water for optimal health and healing. Tap water, spring water, mineral water, filtered water, distilled water, electrolyte water, artesian water, reverse osmosis water, sparkling water, well water, alpine spring water, purified water, deionized water, ozonated water, catalyst altered water, revitalized water, restructured water, soft water, hard water, bio water… are just some of the water types available today. And with each form of water there may be vast differences in quality, purity, natural occurring minerals or pH.
Many public water systems are polluted to some degree, and those that are not, can absorb impurities from the pipes that bring the water into our homes. Most city waters are treated with chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals to destroy pathogens. Accessing natural spring water is not always an option, so for many people, purchasing a good home water filter is a viable solution.
You may have heard theories about alkaline water being healthier than acid water. This relates to the theory that diseases and cancers are destroyed or cannot thrive in an alkaline pH body. With acid rain, many water systems have become acidified, which when drinking regularly can lead to acidic and diseased conditions in the populations drinking that water. In truth, each individual's body and condition is unique, so the ideal pH water should be determined by that which helps to balance your particular body to the proper pH for wellness. It is more about creating a healthy balance because being too alkaline is also unhealthy.
The extensive and conflicting research on different types of waters can fill volumes, more than I can cover in a single blogpost. In future posts I will discuss more about these types of water and their impact on health. My general recommendation is for the most pure, natural and unprocessed water you can find from an unpolluted source. For most people, pure natural spring water is considered the healthiest type of water to drink, if the spring is not polluted, and it is best to store that water in glass, as plastics, metals and other materials can leech into the water.
Hot springs, natural mineral and thermal baths having a reputation for miraculous healing waters. Lourdes in France is a well known mineral spring. It was found to contain several natural occurring minerals that many pilgrims have experienced improved health from drinking or bathing in the waters from the spring.
Vitalized water is water that's been enhanced by the vessel it's contained in through frequencies of certain materials, sacred geometric forms, or by the use of crystals or objects placed in the water. The designers of specially designed carafes claim that water molecules are rearranged in these vessels, transformed into a more harmonious energetic form that's easier for the human body to assimilate. Theories behind this technology are based on much of the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto.
Dr. Masaru Emoto in his extensive research, discovered that water has the ability to retain memory, energy, messages and consciousness. He demonstrated how words, thoughts, emotions or vibrations can affect the molecular structure of water, influencing or giving shape to the formation of ice crystals. His photographed experiments are the subject of several books and documentaries. Some of his experiments involved writing select words on containers of water, reciting or thinking certain words in the water's presence as able to influence the structure of these frozen crystals. Words like love, joy, peace or gratitude produced beautiful, symmetrical and harmonious crystal shapes, where negative words or thoughts of hate, evil, or murder produced irregular distorted or unattractive shapes.
Infusing spiritual intent into my art and writing, using prayer, sacred words, or symbols for the purpose of healing, inspiring and uplifting viewers, has been a long-held goal of my work. As an artist, much of my art reflects the spiritual and environmental values I hold dear. I chose the symbol of a seashell for my PureLifePlanet brand logo to represent the sacred spiral of life, the waters, the Earth, purity, creativity and sacred geometry. Also the right-facing spiral resembles the letter “P” as the initials of Pure & Planet
Along with the visual arts, my creative passions include the movement arts, dance, yoga, as well as writing. Much of my dance work emulates the flow of water, fluidity and waves of movement.
In 2016 I wrote the following poems I felt are relevant to this post.
The first honors the Orixa Goddess Iemanja, which was inspired by the situation at Standing Rock.
The second poem is a tribute to the Goddess Oxum.
WATER IS LIFE
- Water is Life
- Life requires water
- Water is where life begins
- Where the embryo grows, lives and thrives
- Water is full of life and life's full of water
- In our bodies, our foods, and all living matter
- It quenches our thirst, gives us energy, vitality
- Keeps us beautiful, youthful, strong and healthy
- Water feeds the Earth and makes the ground fertile
- She nourishes the soil that germinates the seeds
- Falling from the sky, she fills lakes, rivers and streams
- She helps plants provide the oxygen we breathe
- Water is fluid, undulating dance flowing movement
- Cleansing, refreshing, purifying, enlivening
- Water is commodity, energy, currents and currency
- Her waves and force can power electricity
- Water is reflective
- Reflecting the Sun, the Moon, the dark and light
- It reflects the beauty of nature of which it is part
- It mirrors all things above and the colors of sky
- Water is calming, cool and soothing
- Relaxing or bathing, it helps us to heal
- Its turquoise blues and aquatic greens
- Provide peace, relief and tranquility
- Water is sensual, graceful and permeable
- Mysterious, deep, transforming and flexible
- She turns dirt to mud, powder to clay
- Causes wood to warp, metal to rust, wears stone away
- Water is feminine, receptive, yielding intuition
- Mother Iemanja, Goddess of the sea,
- of creation, creativity, prosperity, longevity,
- feelings, emotions, devotion and divinity
- Water is dynamic, adaptable, variable, versatile
- She can be still or stagnant, or quietly peaceful
- With soft lapping ripples calm and gentle
- Or unstoppable momentum, powerfully forceful
- Water takes many forms and shapes to containers
- In cold, hardening to ice, forming snowflakes or crystals
- In warmth, she dissolves and melts back to liquid
- In heat boils and bubbles, forming steam vapors
- Water ebbs and flows with constant changes
- Her tides, crests and swells are the pulses of nature
- She rises forming clouds of all shapes and sizes
- Spinning in cyclones, whirlpools and curling breakers
- Water has unrestrained tempestuous power
- Inflicting destruction from rough surging waves
- The rushing of floods can overwhelm or drown
- From her turbulent storms and wild seas of rage
- Water is Life, she is all this and more
- She's our lifeblood, a major part of what we are
- We must protect her for all life and our future
- And guard her with our lives to keep her pure
- Water is most precious
- For all the life she gives us
- For all of life to flourish
- We cannot let her perish
- If we allow her to be poisoned
- All life would wither and die
- Without clean water we could not live
- And nothing could not survive
© 2016 by Marsha Silvestri
Rivers of Life
- in her beauty streams flowing rivers
- calm stirred by raindrop's gentle kisses
- from clouds drop tears of joy and bliss
- that wash away tears of sadness
- reflecting light of silver skies
- vapor angels in heavens fly
- spreading out their surface wings
- weave subtle spiral patterns
- purification ritual ceremony
- immersing, cleanse, surrender
- submerge full your Earthly body
- in our planet's healing waters
- embracing with your spirit
- flooding waves of emotions
- pooling all your energies
- merging with the sacred stream
- in the shadow of the near full moon
- dive deep through the subconscious
- blessed by sweet waters of Oxum
- in the loving arms of the Goddess
- adorned with riches and abundance
- golden rasa nectar, elixir of devotion
- in her sensual shimmering dances
- she leaves traces of her presence
- enlivened, refreshed, renewed,
- we celebrate her gifts of life
- beauty flowing, surrounding all
- full with natures bounty
© 2016 by Marsha Silvestri
May you be blessed with life, love and prosperity through the spirit of the waters today.
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