Water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and is vital for all known forms of life. The cells in our bodies consist of 65 – 90% water. We cannot survive without it. So let’s look at some of the fundamental symbolic meanings of this odorless, tasteless and mysterious building block of life.
Throughout history the element of water has been associated with a rich symbolism. In its many forms, dew, rain, seas, oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, ice etc. – it is an archetypal symbol for birth, death, and creativity. It is the formless, containing potential form and possibilities. It is the realm of dreams and the astral, the home of emotions, intuition, and inspiration. Water is an ancient and universal symbol of purity, fertility and the source of life. In many cosmologies life arose from primordial waters. In a general sense, water is an emblem of all fluidity in the material world and of dissolution, mingling, cohesion, birth and re-generation. Water can be a metaphor for spiritual nourishment and salvation. The common image of four streams in paradise flowing from the Tree of Life to the cardinal points was a metaphor for divine energy and spiritual nourishment coursing through the whole universe. Water was once thought literally to reject evil, hence ducking in water to discover if someone was a witch – the person who floated was presumed guilty.
Water is often associated with intuition, dreams and innovation, and journeys. It represents time and change. Water is purifying, and it has rhythm and movement. It is associated with wisdom, as in the Daoist image of water always finding its way around obstacles. It will adapt itself to its environment as it flows around and over objects. It shifts as it flows and water that does not flow becomes stagnant. This is a reminder to always use our natural abilities to flow and change according to our needs. If you spend much of your life rushing around, meditate by a still pond or lake. Restless water is a Buddhist symbol of the impermanence of all things; still water symbolizes meditative insight. Focus on the calm surface of the water until your mind reflects its stillness. Alternatively, if you feel lethargic and lacking in motivation, it may be more appropriate to meditate by the running water of the fountain or stream and to let the lively play of the water renew your spirit. In psychoanalysis water represents the depth of the unconscious.
Love and gratitude are fundamental principles of nature. At the end of its long journey through the cosmos, water arrived on the earth with love and gratitude in its bosom. This love and gratitude created the first inkling of life, and then provided the tender nurturing required for growth. The message of water is love and gratitude. This is one of the reoccurring themes in the book “The Hidden Messages in Water” written by the internationally renowned Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto. In his revolutionary work Dr. Emoto introduces his discovery that molecules of water affected by our thoughts, words, and feelings change and adept their molecular structure. Clear evidence that our innermost structural components react to influences known or unknown to us on a daily basis.
Water is also one of the most ancient forms of transportation and the crossing of any water source was often seen as a change in consciousness and even an initiation. The Sea, in many traditions seen as the primeval source of life – formless, limitless, inexhaustible and full of possibility – is a maternal image which also implies transformation and rebirth. Many myths speak of how all life sprang forth from the great spiritual waters. Through the watery element and the creatures within we find healing, psychic ability and heightened powers. Water and the creatures that inhabit it have been part of all mystery religions. It was associated with the worship of all moon goddesses, all goddesses of the water and the underworld. You can find out more about water spirits here.
The flowing away of all things – a powerful natural symbol of the passage of time and life. For the many great civilizations dependent on the irrigating fertility of rivers and streams, they were important symbols of supply as well as purification and removal. Waters often divide the world of the living and the dead, of the natural and the supernatural.
Decorative photography, images of water in your environment will support your reflective and inspirational moments on this wondrous element we come in contact with every day. Please visit these galleries to see more fine art photography images of water and ice.
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Marian Kraus Photography is a Chicago area based professional architectural photographer, multi media artist and fine art photographer who has been consistently delivering compelling architectural photography to clients including architects, advertising agencies, home builders, corporations, real estate companies and the like since 1999. Additionally, Marian Kraus Photography’s nature and architecture fine art photographs can be found in a growing number of corporate and private art collections.