A Seasonal Thought
WATER: THE BEARER OF LIFE
by Rev. Michaël Merle
The time of St John has passed, and we move into a ten-week period between the end of St John’s Tide and Michaelmas. There is still a strong connection that St John’s Tide has with our region – the current crisis in water management in the Cape provinces, the dry desert of Namibia, and the wet eastern parts of South Africa: Water!
With the lighting of great bonfires in Waldorf Schools at St John’s it is often fire that is most strongly associated with John the Baptist, yet water was the great medium he used in baptising. A deeper appreciation for water may prove informative and inspiring. Water powers our minds and bodies more elementally than any other substance. Without water, there would be nothing. Nothing flowing through the intricate network of veins and arteries on the Earth’s body, lubricating its soils, shaping its cavities, and depressions and fuelling its inner store of fertility. Without water there would be nothing to quench thirst, nothing to bathe in, nothing to wash away impurities. No green shoots, no animal or insect life, no fish, no fowl, no milk, no blood, no growing embryo.
There is something about water, of course, that defies categorisation. It is present in everything. In all stages of the plant for example: root, leaf, flower and fruit. It flows through everything that has life, it is truly the bearer of life. Yet, it also evades our grasp as quickly as we try, both physically and metaphorically, to catch and contain it. It erases as much as it creates and is in constant flux and change.
Water itself, in its intrinsic nature, has no smell, taste or colour. It is given these only by the substances it dissolves in its continuous journey, its percolations and permeations, its evaporations and condensations. It is transparent and selfless, assuming the imprint of what it passes through, absorbing and releasing substances but never binding or owning them. Through this journey, water also remembers the substances it has encountered. As Howard Dobson remarked over a decade ago in an article on Water Flowforms: “One compelling enigma of the natural world is the amazing ability of water to store memory. It cannot be fully explained scientifically, and yet this quality manifests itself in very practical ways. With homeopathic preparations, for example, extracts from plants, with known medical qualities, can be diluted repeatedly in water. While this not only seems to enhance the effectiveness of the extract, it reaches a point where practically nothing of the original extract substance remains in the water, and yet the effectiveness continues. It is as if the qualities of the substance originally diluted in the water have been ‘memorised’ within the matrix of the water itself. And the ‘potency’ may remain in the water for an indefinite period.”
Theodor Schwenk’s studies on water reveal that water drops made different drop pictures depending on the quality of the water. Fresh spring water produces images like flower petals, lesser-quality water produces pictures that look like flower stamens, while waste water gives rise to concentric circles in no “living” pattern.
In the article on flowforms, Howard Dobson describes how often “farmer have observed the lack of ‘vitality’ in irrigation water taken shortly after its passage through hydro-electric turbines. Water appears very fluid and structureless, but it is evident here that a natural structural quality needs to be present in water before it can administer vitality and nourishment to growing plants. Hydro-electric turbines effectively chop up any water structure, thus rendering it fragmented, and we could say confused.”
Water enables all things to reveal their innate character. From a saturated solution, for instance, salts emerge as crystalline formations. So water becomes the symbol of the soul quality that brings out the very best in others. This is the art of listening so completely that others are able to reveal their true nature. In this way, if we are like water, we are able to absorb but not own, reflect but not distort. It is that quality that truly sustains us on a spiritual level, just as water sustains all physical life.
The water researcher John Wilks provided some remarkable insights into the movement of water in the early 1970’s. His research and insights seem to have been largely ignored but they have produced the “path-curved surfaces” now referred to as flowforms. Wilks observes that in living things water expresses a rhythmic movement flow outside in the world. This formed the foundations of the flowform designs. Water has a laminar flow pattern – a pulse if you like. When channelled, water tends to swing and on a large scale, when not inhibited by too steep a gradient, a river naturally meanders. For the past half century research has continued to perfect flowforms which both scientifically and aesthetically maximise the life-enhancing qualities of water.
In discovering the natural potential of water, may we also discover our natural ability to symbolically be water to each other.
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