In November 2013, I discussed connecting to Earth spirits in a series of articles.
Now, in the season of Winter, we move onward to meet Water spirits. Connecting with Water reminds us of both the world’s and our own incredible and universal creative and destructive powers.
Throughout many ancient, and even scientific, stories, the origins of life have sprang from water.
Water is a source of both life and death. From amniotic fluids of the prenatal experience to the nourishment it provides throughout life, it is essential to our existence. It is a primary element within the human body that courses through our veins.
It only seems fitting that there are also stories of the passage and death by crossing different bodies of water. From childhood we all have heard of the great flood stories in our past from the last ice age melt, and even in current times of powerful tsunamis and floods that destroy thousands of lives. Yet, water, on the other side of the coin, is also purifying.
Water has rhythm and movement. It represents time and change. Crossing a body of water is often seen as a change in consciousness and even an initiation.
That is just what I have done this New Year as I snowshoed over a frozen lake: a shamanic initiation.
So many others have done the same in similar and different ways. Making pilgrimages across seas, crossing bridges over rivers, or simply swimming across ponds. There is this sense of attainment that comes from such sacred journeys. The quest. The thrill of the next adventure.
Another type of initiation associated with water is a baptism or naming ceremony. A true ritual baptism in water that I speak of, however, is not the same as the Christianized version.
Originally, baptisms, before they were called baptisms, were sacred ceremonies that marked rites of passage. Sacred baths symbolized a washing away of the past, a purification of sorts, and balanced a person’s etheric field. This is why we feel so good when we take baths or showers when we feel depressed or “dirty” (whether or not we are physically soiled). Water neutralizes our inner and outer bodies physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, environmentally and spiritually. And for all its power, water is rightly considered sacred to so many who cherish its nature.
In ancient times, all the waters of life were considered mysterious. The great oceans and seas were older than anyone knew. They always changed, and yet they were always the same. Civilizations could come and go, but the great seas were always there. From the oceans and the great seas we get life-sustaining foods, and yet many people have lost their lives in its depths. Water is always shifting, with no beginning and no end.
In ancient times, the magic of water had no bounds. It could estrange you from that which made you human, or it could bestow wisdom and spiritual sight. It could cure diseases, and it could even restore youth.
In the Celtic tradition there is the Well of the World that could restore life to dead men. In the Arthurian sagas, the Lady of the lake gave Arthur the sword Excalibur. In ancient times, man had a much more powerful connection to water. We build cities and ports on the seashores. We depended upon the seas to carry goods, foods, and livestock across massive distances and to trade with other villages. We blessed our ships for safe journeys, and spoke to it as if the waves were messages in return. For some still, they carry this tradition.
These water energies, these fantastic creatures of the rivers, oceans, and lakes can be called many names. Some are called nymphs, mermaids, mermen, fae, sprites, undines, or even monsters of the Loch Ness. But all of these names that come with images and conceptions should not be confused with our usual idea of what they truly look like. Books, movies, and television only seems to cloud our vision and influence our naïve eyes. Their forms and shapes change and vary, but all could be considered fluid in nature and can still be found wherever there is water.
They can be seen flowing from waterfalls, riding the waves in the oceans or even on the backs of other sea creatures. Many a fishermen have stories to tell. Water elementals can be seen dancing on the water’s surface, or along the bay and shore. On beaches, near springs, fountains, and pools. They even kiss you as the mist from a rain shower hits your face.
They are that unique feeling you get when you place your feet in the sea. They are that feeling when you hike towards a waterfall, feel the spray on your face, disrobe and jump over the falls into the grotto. They are that inescapable feeling you get when you find an ancient spring or simply the energy you feel when you hold a glass of water in your hand. There are countless dimensions of intelligence working holistically together to create this reality.
Just because you cannot always see them, does not mean that they do not exist. By opening up to the real, rational, logical and incredible possibility that these beings or if you feel better, these energies, exist; then your heart, mind, and spirit will be open to untold mystery, magic, and connection. Just like the force that keeps our atoms together, just as gravity keeps us from floating away, just as the sight of a waterfall inspires calm, just as the sun’s energy nourishes all life on earth, so too do the elementals. Call them what you like: forces of physics, angels, faeries, or pure energy forms; they exist all around us.
These “undine” energies work and maintain the emotional structure of earth on their own levels of consciousness. They help create the liquid things, the lakes, rivers, and seas. They guard the treasures of the earth, and work with humans primarily through nature. They give each drop of water, every snowflake, its own individuality- its own energy. They do this with every aspect of nature, thus every spring, waterfall, pond, and stream has something to teach us.
They also work to maintain our physical bodies, our blood and other body fluids, etc. Without these energies we would not function in the physical realm. They help us become aware of our intuitive senses and develop a reliance on them. Too little connection with our personal undine and other water elementals may make us feel “dried out” and rigid. Too much connection with them will cause us to be too emotional and oversensitive. By attuning to our personal undine and its energies more directly, we can develop intuition and creative imagination. We can learn to use our emotional forces more appropriately and open to healing and the development of our psychic natures. All water spirits can teach us about our inner feelings.
Nature spirits of the water include beings other than just the Undine elementals. They include pool and river elves, spring and well faeries, who inhabit brooks, harbours, glaciers and all of those of the faerie realm who live close to water. This includes nixies of Germany; the berehynia of the Ukraine, the sirens, naiads, crinaeae, limnades, pegawae, and nereids of Greece, the camenae of Rome, the Water Indians by Native Americans, the selkies of the Shetland Islands and Iceland, the kelpies of Scotland, the morgens of Breton, the kappa and hyosube of Japan, the ahuizotl of the Aztecs, the adaro of the Solomon Islands, the jengu of Cameroon, the mami wata throughout Africa, the phi phraya and phi thale of Thailand.
Stories vary but in spite of contradictions, there are certain qualities that are universally attributed to Water Spirits by Ted Andrews:
- Beauty is their key note. This beauty is often reflected through “feminine” forms. This does not mean that there are no male water spirits, as there are mermen and such. Water, though, is so universally and archetypically feminine, that this may be the most ideal or easiest form for them to appear to humans [who look at life in a dualistic way. However, if you are a human who sees things, such as myself, in terms outside of gender then a water spirit may feel it is more appropriate to show itself truly. Energies are energies, and usually outside of form. To me, whether a nature spirit has breasts or a penis is beside the point. Plus, there are more than just two genders Westerners…]
- They tend to communicate through our emotions.
- They are generally sweet and gentle. There have been many stories of beautiful water nymphs and mermaids who seduce and lead men to their doom or death. [Whether or not this was because they foretold the travesties that man-kind has committed in the name of progress and money who is to say? Perhaps this is why we seldom hear stories of male water spirits. How many vessels of women looking for a new world to exploit have you read about? Perhaps they appeared in female form to only appeal to the longings of heterosexual captains and mates. Theories are endless.] Although many of these tales are superstitious, often they are symbolic of the change occurring within the mind and consciousness of one who encounters such a wondrous realm. The person is never the same again, and to many it may seem as if they have lost their souls or died. Such accounts may reflect that for the first time in a person’s life they caught a true glimpse of their souls. There are many psychologically and spiritual interpretations for these associations with doom and death.
- A fluidness is very characteristic of most. Water spirits can present themselves in the most enticing, seductive, and appealing forms. They can also take the form of sea creatures like seals, dolphins, turtles, etc. Many shore creatures share their magic and protection with the water spirits and also serve as a bridge to humans such as turtles, fish, lizards, frogs, otters, cranes, gulls etc.
- Water faeries are generally and genuinely fond of humans, although they are hesitant to reveal themselves.
- They have a special love of flowers and plants. An ideal way to invite their presence is by gently tossing flower blossoms onto the surface of a body of water or leaving bouquets at the edge of a water source is always a good gesture.
- They belong to or are generally confined to their water source. They do have some freedom and can leave it for varied lengths of time, but they must almost always return to their home and source.
- They have a great love for music, and they are often very beautiful singers.
- They can bestow magical gifts and treasures, including healing and protection. They are skilled in enchantment.
- They inspire love, inspiration, creative imagination, intuition, and clairvoyance.
These “nymphs” and “sprites” often take on the customs and appearances of their locale when in human form, which makes sense since their tales are not specific of one single area on earth, but throughout the world. The purity of water falls under their domain since they are Gaia’s guardian spirits. They resent not being asked when “humans want to make changes in an environment, and in their anger may exact some tough lessons on the humans involved.”
These beings and spirits of nature, no matter where they manifest, are crucial to the evolution of humanity.
They maintain the earth’s waters and everything within it so that we have a place to grow and evolve. They are here to assist us in our initiation into the water element.
Remember, all water is connected and this implies relationship. Those of this realm are rarely solitary beings, and unless they know you and are very comfortable with you, you will rarely encounter them alone. There is always at least one being who serves as the guardian to the water source. Sometimes a whole group may work together, which is not unusual to find.
Water has been the most traveled route into the faerie realm. Water links us to the astral dimension where these beings operate more actively, although they are quite capable of moving from that realm to the physical, and back again. The borderlands to the various water sources are where encounters with those of this realm is most accessible. The edges of these territories are considered unsafe. The points where land meets water are intersections of worlds, doorways by which those of the water realm can enter the physical. Islands, beaches, lakeshores, riverbanks, and the edges of wells are magical points where the mortal world intersects with the faerie realm. It was considered foolhardy to sleep or rest near brooks and the edges of streams because you could fall under an enchantment. [I find that these areas make me feel more connected and have spent the night several times at these locations. My dreams have always been interesting to say the least.]
Anything on earth implies form, shape, weight, and a material substance. The initiation of the water spirits involves learning how to free ourselves from those limitations. It implies learning all that we can about controlling our emotional and our finer bodies of energy.
They can teach us that life’s unstructurable moments are also a part of the overall structure of the universe. They also teach us to be practical healers in life. To allow things to flow properly and in balance. They teach us to place people before money. They teach us self-love and respect; the proper expression of emotions, and how the power of living wholeheartedly can be a dynamic force in the universe.
There are countless benefits to learning to connect with the spirits of the Earth.
- We develop our psychic nature through contact with water spirits.
- We learn to be more nurturing.
- They show us how to develop greater resourcefulness.
- They teach us about healing.
- They help us overcome fears of confinement.
- They assist us in developing flexibility.
- They stimulate our romantic nature.
- They awaken compassion and sensitivity.
- They stimulate artistic inspiration.
- They help us to deal with exaggerated emotions.
- They help us develop greater sensuality.
- They awaken the creative imagination.
So, get out there! Discover! Touch a lake’s spirit, and see if you can feel what I have written about here today. Whether that means going out for a stroll in the snow, walking along the beach, diving in the local hot spring, visiting a sacred well or grotto.
Have fun and may your adventure be a safe one!
If you are nervous and would like a guided meditation, I will be posting one soon by Ted Andrews. Good luck! And have fun! See what you can discover on your own first!
Photos courtesy of Saad Faruque, dicktay2000, bcymet, Graham Cook, Mathias Wennergren, airdiogo, mcdlttx,
Enchantment of the Faerie Realm: Communicate with Nature Spirits and Elementals by Ted Andrews