Waves crashing onto the seashore, wild and majestic or the limpid waters of a cool lake that caress your bare feet: whatever form it takes, we just can’t help being drawn to water. In the past our ancestors worshipped water, glorifying the various gods and goddesses of the sea, the rivers, lakes and waterfalls with offerings and rituals. Their awe was well-founded. Without water we cannot survive – it is the most essential element on our planet.
In psychological terms water represents life and our attitude towards life. Its hidden depths also symbolise our unconscious minds, the parts of us which lurk below waking consciousness: our hopes and dreams, our fears and shadows. Some psychologists also claim that water reflects our sexuality – the deepest urges of our senses and psyche.
The kind of water to which you are drawn can tell you an immense amount about your personality, your romantic life, even which life challenges you are facing at the moment. Try this simple “vision quest” to discover your water personality: don’t just choose the body of water that attracts your conscious mind, let your subconscious lead the way!
THE WATER VISION QUEST
1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed. Pay attention to your breathing. Feel yourself relax and your breathing become slower and deeper.
2. Let yourself drift deeper and deeper, becoming more and more relaxed.
3. Imagine you are slowly walking down a flight of stairs. With each step you become more and more relaxed. Count from one to ten as you walk down.
4. You find yourself facing a door. You know that, behind this door, you will find yourself in a beautiful place in nature. The door swings open and you walk through.
5. Look down at your feet – notice what kind of ground you are standing on.
6. Start walking. Notice your feelings. Are you calm and relaxed, or slightly edgy?
7. You come across a body of water. Is it the ocean? A lake? A river? A waterfall? How large is it? How do you feel about it? What do you want to do (ie sit down and watch it; jump in; paddle; walk away?). Think of three adjectives to describe “your” water.
8. Stay with your feelings for a few moments and then walk back to the door. Walk back up the flight of stairs, counting from ten to one, feeling more awake with each step you take.
9. Come back to waking consciousness. Note down what you saw or felt.
WHAT YOUR WATER VISION MEANS
THE OCEAN: All life originally came from the sea – it is the archetypal life-giver but can also take life. The ocean holds all secrets: it is dangerous, mysterious, powerful and fathomless. In Jungian terms, it represents the collective unconscious – humankind’s shared memories.
YOUR CHALLENGE: Being drawn to the ocean suggests you have a mystical calling. “You are looking for a sense of connectedness with life,” says Jungian psychologist Sarah Dening, “you need creative inspiration.” Go within to find a sense of peace – try meditation or creative outlets such as painting or dancing.
YOUR ROMANTIC LIFE: You may take emotional risks; you certainly crave excitement. You might well play the field and be slightly manipulative of others’ emotions. Did you rush into the sea or just paddle? The amount you get involved with the sea represents how in touch you are with your emotions and your sexuality. Look also at the adjectives you used to describe the sea – they will give clues to how you view sex.
THE LAKE: Lake water is still, calm and serene. It can be peaceful and embracing or brooding and stagnant. In mythology, lakes are the dwelling places of monsters or women with magical powers, such as the Lady of the Lake. A lake can give access to unknown worlds – they can be places of transformation.
YOUR CHALLENGE: There is a specific issue in your life which needs to be addressed. This could well concern your emotions. Unless you make a decision about this, you will become trapped and limited. “The lake shows you have a craving for security,” says Sarah Dening, “but there is a lesson you need to learn.” Do you rely too much on what is safe and known? Try taking the odd risk – enrol in a class, try a new sport, make new friends.
YOUR ROMANTIC LIFE: You yearn for unconditional love, a warm, supportive relationship. You are unselfish and caring in your love life but beware that you don’t smother your partner with over-possessive love. Look at the adjectives you used to describe your lake – this reflects your view of sex. Did you leap into the lake to swim or dive; or did you perch on the edge? How wet you wanted to be in the lake represents how emotional and sensual you are.
THE RIVER: Rivers hold a special place in mythology: they represent the boundaries between life and death. In ancient rites of passage, initiates often had to travel from one bank to another to find spiritual power and nourishment. A river is an irresistible force – it will plunge through deep ravines and spread out over wide planes.
YOUR CHALLENGE: You are a very forceful, committed person with definite ideas and desires. But maybe now you need a change of perspective. “The river signifies that you are facing a complete life change,” says Sarah Dening. It could be time to re-assess your priorities and look at an entirely new way of life. Examine your opinions – do they truly reflect your needs? Or are you just being stubborn? Become more flexible – try learning yoga or martial arts.
YOUR ROMANTIC LIFE: You are very sensitive to the needs and moods of other people. Highly emotional, you get deeply involved – not always in the right relationship. Try not to be so intense – let go and have some fun. What adjectives did you use to describe your river? They will give an indication of how you view sex. Did you plunge into the river or just dip in a toe? This gives an idea of how in touch you are with your emotions; how open you are with your sensuality.
THE WATERFALL: Waterfalls are magical places, often hidden up in the mountains or in deep valleys. The waterfall has no fear – it rushes down perilously from any height. Its water is young, fresh, impulsive. In ancient mythology a waterfall was often the home of water nymphs; in pagan traditions, it was believed to be the home of powerful but often dangerous water deities.
YOUR CHALLENGE: You are an adventurous person, always rushing into things, always seeking the new, the exciting, the different. You are restless, bounding with energy, keen to explore the world and everything in it. You may be a little too naïve for your own good. “Explore your restlessness and work with it,” advises Sarah Dening, “Meditation and introspection probably won’t work for you. You need to find a way to channel your restless energy.” Try hiking, horse-riding, white-water rafting! Or competitive sports.
YOUR ROMANTIC LIFE: You are always falling in love – or you may have just fallen deeply in love. There is a sense of excitement, a great release of emotional energy: you need to express your feelings. However watch out that you are not being naïve and gullible – ensure your love is reciprocated. How did you approach your waterfall? Did you sit and watch it, or dance under the raging waters? This can indicate just how impulsive or reserved you are in love. What adjectives did you use to describe it? These explain your view of sex.
This feature first appeared in Natural Health magazine.