In Praise of Water: Teacher, Ally, Shape-shifter
Water, in many ways, is elusive by nature, adopting countless shapes, here static, there always on the move. Water is reminiscent of the soul; it is essential for life but close to impossible to define in its fullness. The water that makes up our bodies is the same liquid that has evaporated from oceans and rivers, traveled to the sky, fell as rain, and later flowed back to the sea enriched with nutrients and sediments.
Our sweat has known the depths of the ocean, has delved even deeper into the Earth, watering its crustal features and returning back to the atmosphere via volcanoes and rock intrusions to allow for cellular communication within our bodies. The water in our retinas and the tears of sorrow or joy rolling down our cheeks hold the essence of life. Water, as the great shapeshifter, invites us to lend our attention to the fluid mystery pervading all life.
Throughout time, different cultures have acknowledged the presence of mysterious half spirit, half material entities inhabiting the natural world. Given its ethereal and corporeal nature, water lends itself to make the mystery of the all-pervasive soul somewhat intelligible by acquainting us, amongst other things, with change and adaptability. Energized through various planetary cyclings that animate planetary life, water is found as a liquid, gas (vapor), and solid (ice). Similarly, the waters within allow us to embrace change and go beyond psychological structures that prevent growth and wellbeing. By inviting us to shape-shift and respond in a life-affirming way to any given situation, water is a wonderful ally.
Water as chief shape-shifter adapts to reality just-as-it-is, thus fully accepting change. Water teaches us to soften the inner struggle when facing a challenging situation that may go against our expectations.
By way of water, life shows us the humble way of acceptance in which the most appropriate response to a given situation is found. Whenever temperatures fall below zero degrees Celsius water does not fight to maintain its fluid nature but responds by making itself solid; when heat becomes overwhelming, water goes lets its solidity go and, passing through the liquid state, goes into the air in gaseous form.
Similarly, we humans are endowed with the capacity to shape-shift, attune to the situation at hand, and flow in the direction of the most adequate response. When confronted with a heated situation, for example, we may soften the grip of our position (water’s solid state), allow for our opinions to evaporate, and reach the heights of a higher, more tolerant perspective. After all, we are composed of about 70% water.
As animated water, we humans are active participants in water’s planetary cycle. The blood running through our veins follows the patterns found in a flowing river or the mighty currents that cycle the world’s oceans — the global conveyor belt. The life-giving liquid not only unites all life but also lends its patterns and potentials to each living creature.
Every deed we perform involves the cycling and exchange of water in one form or another. When failing to act in concert with the world’s waters we halt the natural cycling of water; the human ecosystem becomes polluted with stagnant water that negatively impacts the planetary ecosystem.
We ought to revive the felt sense of being part of the planet’s waters. The tides of our humanity have apparently grown still as the soul-liquid is perceived as a lifeless memory of bygone days in need of being transcended. The watery shapeshifting essence, however, patiently waits to be conjured back into our conscious awareness.
The planetary water cycle is a tangible expression of the matrix of consciousness that nourishes life within and without, signaling the pathway of return to the natural riches of existence. Our stagnant waters might be put back in motion and regain their crystalline quality by virtue of rediscovering the depths of who we are: whirlpools of energy and matter shapeshifting through time and space whilst animated by the world’s waters.
Adapted from: Adrián Villasenor-Galarza. Bioalchemy: On the Transformative Belonging of Nature, Humans, and Soul, 2015.