Water is tricky. Not only because it is actually the element where most of its energy lies hidden in concealed places, but also because water is the hardest of the elements to really grasp. Like a river rolling or a lake looking back at you, the fluidity and the depth of water are just difficult to feel very certain about. Water is ever changing, always a little elusive and the deepest bodies of water almost feel alien to land dwellers like us.
Water gets left out of some energetic systems all together, the most obvious example being the Tridosha of Ayurvedic medicine in India. While Vata correlates primarily to air, Pitta to fire and Kapha to earth, the concept of "damp" or "wet" gets sort of just thrown in between Pitta and Kapha while water itself seems to be a loosely "co-Kapha" quality.
This feels inexcusable to me, water being such a life-giving part of both our bodies and our daily reality, but water as an energetic concept is so complicated and murky that I don't blame the Ayurvedic tradition for wanting to skip over it. In fact, they probably didn't skip over it - water is so difficult to define, so shrouded in mystery that they may not have even known it was there, lurking in the shadows, waiting, watching.
Yes, there is something all together eerie about water.
I remember when I was young, I was always scared to go swimming in the Adirondack lakes in Upstate, NY not because I wasn't a strong swimmer, but because I didn't know what was down there, under the water's surface. There was no way to know how far down the bottom was or what unknown treasures or torments were waiting for the toes of an innocent human child to rub up against them.
Water is the element of unseen things.
In the zodiac, water is represented by three creatures with hard exteriors and soft, squishy, vulnerable insides. If you knew nothing else about fish, scorpions and crabs, that would be enough to understand the sorts of people they represent in astrology. Water itself is also that way - it hides its true nature in the cloak of a seemingly serene surface, but if you look at it the right way -
connect with it -
all of this magic comes out. Water is like that.
Water people are like that.
Water people truly are an enigma. Like the ocean they have a flare for drama, a tendency towards tantrum like Poseidon gathering the tides against the shore with his trident. But there is passion that comes with that - if you are loved by a water person you are loved for life, unconditionally and with abandon, engulfing you as you sink deeper into what's hidden below the surface. Water people tend to cling to their relationships even when they may be unhealthy or destructive - trust comes slow but is not easily surrendered once established. Like a storm gathering over the waves they are prone to brooding and crying spells, with obsessive tendencies and the occasional fit of rage. But ruling with emotions makes them compassionate, caring and loyal. Good listeners.
A water person will be the one to come pick you up at 2am when you're scared and just want to come home.
Like the river, water people are dependent on boundaries to thrive and without rules and order tend to quickly become stagnant and lose their lust for life. They tend to be dependent on the confines of organizations, institutions and personal relationships with other people to guide them. When given the supportive walls of a sturdy shore, water people find their way. Without it, they tend to fall apart.
Like the lake, there is magic in these souls where so much is hidden away. The outside may look like glass or a hard shell, but it's impossible to know what is really there, underneath. Water is the closest of the elements to God, to magic, to intuition. To creativity, art and love. It is the element with the most insight into the spiritual plane and there is something almost cunning about water people - like they always know a bit more than they are letting on.
Water dominates the Spring season, which is now. For those of you like me who thrive on witchy stories and spiritual allegory, Spring is also the time when Persephone leaves Hades' side to reclaim her place as Goddess of the Spring, tapping out for half the year from her role as Queen of the Underworld, Protector of the Damned.
There is something dark about water.
And a little bit sexy.
And always just on the right side of danger.
The path to the Underworld is governed by the River Styx, and we all know the stories of the eyes of fallen Greeks being adorned with coins so as to pay the boatman to ensure safe passage across. Water is the gatekeeper to the afterworld.
While Persephone's return to earth helps facilitate Summer, which is ruled by fire, the actual responsibility for making such Summer-y thing happen is not given to her, but rather is the duty of her mother, Demeter. While a great Goddess indeed, Persephone is always a little cold, and a little watery, like her secret heart may yearn for the dark secret places past the river, under the seas, unseen.
I think all water people yearn for that, at least a little, this time of year.
Water is my second strongest element. By astrological markers and by my constitution I am fire dominant. My sun is in Leo, my moon in Aries but my rising rests firmly in Scorpio. Fire, it should be noted, is water's opposite - water douses fire, but while fire turns water to steam, it cannot actually destroy it. Nothing does, really.
It should be no wonder then, why I feel myself so spiritually pulled this time of year. The veil is thin now, the one that shields us from the world of the dead. We think of that time being closer to Halloween and it is, but Spring too is a time of transition between life and death, with the two living side by side in harmony, the spirits of the watery underworld and the fiery sun intermingling. My water, however small, becomes big this time of year. I have a tendency to get broody, dark, with an impulse to create a safe circle around me, a shell, a boundary. Magic feels more real to me and the moon feels more comfortable than the sun.
Water, of course, is also the element of the female - of blood, hormones and all the general witchiness that comes with monthly moon magic. Spiritual sisters in red tends or dancing under the stars are under the influence of water. Creativity. Intuition. Sex. Mystery.
Water has plants, and we should mention these. Plants that influence water tend to nourish with oil, lubricate with slime or soften with salt (water follow salt, you get it).
Oily, nutritive remedies feed our internal fire - our hormones, immune systems and bellies. These include burdock, sage and Angelica. Angelica in particular I am learning to love this time of year - it has a way of pulling out water and throwing it back at me covered in total surrender and endless possibility.
Slimy sounds bad, but its lovely if you've got hot, inflamed things that need a coating of cool, wet sludge to protect them and make them feel better. Marshmallow, slippery elm and Solomon's seal serve us well here.
Sometimes you need water to find its way into hard places and inject itself with intention to break up the hardness, like a pressure washer that gets years of dried mud off the side of a house. The salts and minerals in remedies like mullein and plantain allow them to find their way into the cracks and crevices, pulling water behind them.
So how to end this? Water is misunderstood. It gets passed over, forgotten. Maybe that's its own fault for doing such a great job burrowing down far below where the other elements go. Maybe it's because there is just too much about water that completely evades our understanding since we cannot live surrounded in it. We are too air reliant.
Maybe that's exactly what creates the magic.
Either way, water is and should be defined by our inability to "pin it down" - just because we don't fully understand it doesn't mean it's not important. I invite you then, this Spring, to be open to the possibility of water - of sinking into its uncomfortable depths, of peering being its magical faces, of bending and twisting in ways that require a surrender of both the ethereal and earthly.
I invite you to not be afraid of the dark, the hidden things, but rather discover a new world below the surface, a whole new range of possibilities you didn't even know were there.
Get carried away.