Water is a very important element in both occult and religious practices, as well as the overall survival of our planet. Without water, nothing can live.
What is water?
First the sciency stuff! Water (H2O) is formed by a bond between two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. This formula also applies for ice and steam, the only common substance to exist as a liquid, solid and gas in nature. Water covers about 70% of the Earth, is responsible for regulating its temperature and is the solvent in which life originally emerged. In fact, there is the same amount of water on Earth now as there always has been, meaning that the same water molecules were around even in the time of the dinosaurs!
The Importance of Water to Humans
It is a well known fact that a human being can live for about a month without food, but only a week without water. We ourselves are mostly water: our brain being about 70% water and our blood being 83% water. We use water every day, some of the uses being: to drink, for agriculture, for cleaning, for producing energy and electricity, for the toilet, for cooking and for aid in manufacturing. Without water, humans would simply become extinct in a very short amount of time, as well as all of Earth’s life.
Water in Shinto
Water is considered one of the essential elements in Shinto and is largely used for harae (祓 or 祓い) – purification rituals. It is also one of the most important daily offerings a follower of Shinto can give; even if someone does not have access to salt, rice or sake, water is plentiful in most places on Earth and should be offered daily (or as often as you are able).
According to the kojiki, a chronicle of Japanese mythology, Japan was created out of a primordial soup consisting of water, much like the scientific version of life’s origins. Because of the sacred status of water in Shinto, many waterfalls, lakes and oceans are believed to be homes of the kami or even kami themselves.
Before praying at a shrine or kamidana, it is essential to cleanse yourself with water. At most Shinto shrines there is a wash basin where one must cleanse their hands and mouth before praying. Doing so is called temizu (手水). Water purification in general is called misogi (禊修法) and covers temizu, as well as a more dedicated form which has believers stand under a waterfall as a dedication to the kami. You can read more about misogi here!
Water in General Pagan Practices
As I can not speak for all pagan practices (I have only dabbled in a few!) I have created a list of correspondences associated with the element of water.
Altar Symbol: Chalices, cauldrons and mirrors
Metals: Silver, mercury, copper
Sun Signs: Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio
Tarot Suit: Cups (Emotions, Intuition, Love, Relationships, Feelings, Healing)
Animals: All sea creatures, Sea mammals, Bears, Dragons, Swans and other water foul, Cats, Frogs
Elemental Spirits: Undynes, Mermaids, Dragons, Sirens, Harpies, Kelpies, Nymphs, Selkies
Gods and Goddesses: Poseidon, Osiris, Dylan, Ea, Ryujin, Neptune, Aphrodite, Tiamat, Isis, Yemaya, Ran
Ritual Associations: Dreams, Love, Psychic Development, Purification, Peace, Marriage, Friendships, Cleansing, Self-reflection, Forgiveness
Why Water is Important to Me
Water is such a common element and a part of our daily lives that it is easy to forget just how important it is. It may seem uninteresting – just a blueish-clear liquid that we drink and bath in – it’s easy to take it for granted.
To me, water is a blessing from the kami. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive and neither would the Earth itself. It’s why space agencies are so intent on finding water on other planets in any form because water is truly the giver and creator of life. We developed from single-celled organisms into the vast amount of multi-celluar, intelligent beings that roam the Earth today, all thanks to water being our incubator.
Water continues to flow, evaporate and rain down on us no matter what. It is a powerful reminder of the life cycles of the Earth, and especially that we are blessed every day. When it rains we should rejoice that the water is still flowing, that life moves on, no matter our own personal problems and struggles.
Water is absolutely the most important substance we have here on Earth and we should treasure it. After all, it’s what makes us different from the possibly millions of other planets where life has yet to begin, or maybe will never begin at all. An interesting fact: Water does exist on our neighbour Mars in ice form. This could mean that there is life underneath the ice – most likely microscopic extremophiles like we have here on Earth – or perhaps life already existed there once and died out. We may never know!
So next time you take a drink of water, have a shower or maybe swim in a lake, think about what water means to you. Hopefully this post has opened your eyes a little about this common element and given you a new appreciation for it.
What do you think about water? Is it something you use often in your practices? Please let me know by commenting below! Thanks so much for reading!