Following the flow...
Without water the seed remains dormant in the soil. Without water humans cannot survive for more than a few days. Without water our planet would be like Mars; rocks and dust. Water gives birth to life, but I'm not going to write about that, I'm going to let water take me on a journey within...
Air my breath and fire my spirit,
earth my body, water my blood...
So goes one of my favourite pagan chants, emphasising our oneness with these essential elements: air, fire, earth and water. Out of these four, it is the latter we are physically closest to with our bodies consisting of up to 60% water, but our connection is even deeper than that. In the Tarot tradition water symbolises the emotional world and us humans are emotional beings. No matter how much we would like to see ourselves as perfectly rational and logical, the vast majority of our actions are either emotional reactions or are driven by an emotional need. Like water, emotions are fluid and both have a tendency to be hard to steer, following the path of least resistance, twisting and turning, responding to their environment or at the mercy of their own sheer power. Anybody who has ever had to talk down a toddler in full tantrum mode or has tried to cross even a small stream after heavy rainfall will know that either task isn't to be lightly undertaken.
People like to be in the presence of flowing water. There isn't a river in the land without a path beside it and many of you will have strolled along those walks, alone or in company. Something about the movement of water evokes a completive state of being, thoughts and emotions flowing through your head, just like water through your fingers. You don't try to hold onto either, but just enjoy the feeling of things flowing. Some time back, I followed my ears to the soft tinkling, murmuring sound of running water at the edge of a woods and sat down among the oaks and hazels that grew alongside a tiny stream. The water bubbled and tumbled between the rocks and the sound it made was like the most exquisite music, moving me to sit and listen for a while. When I eventually left, it was with a deep feeling of peace and contentment. I felt refreshed and energised, ready for anything, even though when I had started out on my walk it had been with a heavy feeling of overwhelm and worry about the enormity of the challenges of climate change, dwindling resources and steering your community towards resilience. Such is the healing power of water.
But water does more than just heal and cleanse a weary soul, it can be a mirror, inviting you to spend some time in reflection and self-exploration. From “Who am I?” to “Where am I going?” and “What am I doing?”. Does the river know it's source, it's destination? Does it need to? Even a muddy puddle can reflect back the bags under your eyes, the lines on your face and tell you it's time to ease off a little, to take some space for yourself, have a bath or a swim.
Or maybe you'd like to dive down, below the surface, into the watery depths of your subconscious or the realm of dreams. What is it that truly motivates you? Have you been this busy just to keep the fear at bay, working all hours not to feel your sadness for the state of our world? If you go deeper still, you might encounter your dreams, popping up out of the murk like shiny angler fish and tell you things you didn't know you knew. But for this to happen, you will need to stop for a while, allow the surface to become still, so that you may see the images upon it.
I am lucky in that where I live, I am close to the sea and when the weather allows, we all go down to the beach with surfboards and wetsuits, barbecue grills and charcoal, sometimes even kayaks and fishing lines. After weeks of wet weather, a warm, sunny afternoon is bound to bring out our community in force to “make the most of it” and at those times the kids often play in the surf until sunset. At some point during those coming-togethers, I usually find myself strolling along the water's edge by myself, weaving in and out with the waves rushing up the sand. There is something reassuring about the constant ebb and flow of the water, being pulled by the force of the moon, even when you can't see her. It reminds me that in the end, we have to let go of control and allow the flow to take us and to surrender gracefully to what may be.In the words of a Hopi elder:
"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered. . .
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader."
Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a good time!"
"There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.”
"Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.”
"The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we've been waiting for."
-- attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder