‘Water, water everywhere…’. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
From the beginning of this month we moved, ritually, into the season of autumn (from a northern hemisphere viewpoint). Lughnasadh (1 August, though some opinions may differ by a few days) was the first day of the season.
That date was also the festival of the first harvest (wheat, barley etc), and half way through this season is Alban Elfed or Autumn Equinox (22 September) which is the time of the second harvest (soft fruits etc), culminating in Samhain (31 October), which is the third harvest of the season (of berries and nuts).
But, there’s more.
For the season of autumn the compass, cardinal point is west; and the predominating element is water; and water is the theme of this short article.
’We live on a blue planet that circles around a ball of fire next to a moon that moves the sea, and you don’t believe in miracles?’. Anonymous
In our groves, faith groups or solo rituals and practices, it is good to be reminded, especially in this water-orientated season, of this precious liquid. It is a necessity for life, is the object of our gratitude for it, and the source of our sheer wonderment that it occurs on this planet, and in such abundance – this is surely the ‘blue planet’.
Water is sacred.
It can teach us about Life and it can teach us about life (note the capital L and lower case use of the letter – to denote Life in all its mystery, and life in the ‘small things’ of our daily life), or is there no real division?
‘Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.’ Lao Tzu
In our rituals we might spend some time pouring some water from a jug into a bowl, and meditating of the wonder of water. Or, we might pour water into a cup, at some point during our ceremonies, to sip ad savour cold water, and meditate upon it. Or we might pour some out onto the garden (or window box or potted plant) as a libation – a sacred ‘thank offering’ to the Great Water Giver.
’A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us.’ – Lucy Larcom
Whatever you do, be encouraged to do one, or more things, water orientated in this ‘water’ season. If you’re fortunate to have rain (in these exceptionally hot and dry days), wrap up safely, grab a raincoat and/or umbrella and go for a walk – all the time appreciating the cool rain, and maybe, purposely getting wet to enjoy the moment. Even more reason to give gratitude.
’All water is holy water.’ Rajiv Joseph
In our liturgy – the spoken parts of our ceremonies – you might find the following poem (or is it a prayer of gratitude) penned by me a few years ago, useful, as part of the ritual.
But, there’s (even) more.
In our very being, the ‘exterior’ composed mainly of water, and in our spirit and soul, as well as our bodies, we are intrinsically connected to water, in actuality as well as a metaphor, of life in all its sacredness.
The vast oceans, that which sustains life on Earth,
which move at the behest of the moon,
the rolling tides that contains a myriad of sea-life, from plankton to the behemoth,
that which quenches the world’s need,
and from which all nourishment is assured,
acknowledgement is given.
From clouds you pour out rain upon the Earth, and enrich it.
Mighty lakes appear from which ancient forests of growing trees are fed,
and daily bread is produced for our table.
An abundance for many,
and a veritable gift from the Great Water-Giver.
It soothes and it heals.
For when an angel’s wing sweeps
across the surface of the Pool,
then healing takes place, and there is restoration.
It’s cleansing power, daily, washes the body,
and restores vitality.
A clean start. A refreshing start. A new start.
All is washed away.
And, in it celebration commences,
in appreciation, in sport, in swimming and in children’s’ play.
It quenches the soul, it nurtures the spirit;
and from those who are aware,
springs of sanctifying water flow,
and outward pour,
to friends, to enemies,
to those near, and to those far away.
Whether we have much, or little,
may the words, “Come, all. Drink. Share”, be on our lips.
Praise to the Great Water-Giver.
Note: Apologies for the wrong symbol for water used in the ‘header’ photo. The triangle should, infact, be pointing down to represent water in the four classical symbols. Pointing up represents air. Mea culpa!