Water is more than a resource. Water is a life-bringing entity, via aqua. Embrace old and new practices for healing planetary waters.
What does it mean to embrace a blue spirituality? And why might it be necessary? I’ve been mulling this over since Christine Figgener’s viral video of an olive ridley sea turtle with a drinking straw stuck in his nostril.
It was then I learned that there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. And our rivers carry the equivalent of 100,000 trucks full of plastic out to sea each year. Our planet’s waters—and the beings who call them home—are in crisis.
For millennia, humans have involved water in our lives. Water permeates our oldest religious narratives, from the godly mating waters of the Babylonians to the creation stories of the Abrahamic traditions. Before we could be formed from the earth, the earth was formed from the waters.
Our ancestors looked to water for wisdom in the sacred spring of Delphi. Or they went on pilgrimage to holy rivers. Some created rituals for purification and transformation that have been handed down through generations, remarkably unchanged. As modern seekers, we’ve added practices and rituals, too, perhaps spending one day in a dark deprivation tank, then the next surfing waves as our senses overload.
And of course, we drink water in. Without her, we cannot exist. Without him, our planet could not either. Without them, there would be no us. It’s odd to gender water, and yet, to not do so necessitates using “it”—the pronoun that denies personality or rights, relegating this incredible wetness that moves and transforms and births life to a “resource.”
It could be said that we have used water. And going further down the implications of that path: without consent. Like so many other beings and living things on this planet. Yes, we have taken so much that geologists call this age the Anthropocene. To correct this, we must learn how to give back.
Our contemplative and mystery-embracing ancestors often called their spiritual paths a way―or via. Musing about what could or could not be known about divinity, many embraced a via positiva or via negativa. Modern theologians have followed suit, suggesting we might connect to the divine through new ways, including the via creativa and via feminina.
In homage to those who traveled before us, perhaps our emerging blue spirituality could be named the via aqua. By traveling this path, we find sacred connection through our relationship with the waters around us.
Step 1: Learn about water.
Did you know it takes 3,190 gallons of water to make a typical cell phone? Or that it takes twice as much water to produce a water bottle as the amount of water that bottle can hold?
Watercalculator.org can help you figure out how much water you are responsible for using—your “water footprint”—as well suggest easy and creative ways to be more efficient with water.
Step 2: Change your spiritual relationship with water.
Shifting our perception of water as a resource to water as another player in the universe that we share this planet with can help increase our compassion for how water is treated. Consider ways to revere this relationship. Meditate by water. Consider how gently or harshly you operate your faucets. Or what you do with that half-empty bottle you find in the back of your hot car. Be mindful. Treat every drop as precious. Contemplate the path of how that water got to you—it’s unique via aqua—and where that water might go next on its journey.
Step 3: Treat water with healing actions.
Often, we speak of the healing powers of water—on us. And yet, might we have the ability to help heal water? While controversial, some suggest that humans can create change in water through focused intention. I cover all bases using a spiritual + physical + financial approach.
First, I include water in my prayers and good vibes list:
Blessed are you, water that breaks forth patiently through solid rock and spills triumphantly over cliffs. Endlessly transformable smooth liquid that turns to translucent steam or rigid ice, merging with any environment. Wetness that takes so many forms—from fresh to briny to stagnant—so that other beings may flourish. Boundless oceans that shape Earth. Winding streams that nourish four-legged travelers. May you be free from pollution, garbage, and chemicals. May you heal. May you and your ecosystems thrive.
Second, I participate in clean-up actions in my community.
Third, I donate to help other communities where water challenges exist through Thirst Project and charity: water. Indeed, 1 in 10 people does not have access to clean water. That needs to be healed as well.
Step 4: Support the World Water Law.
What could happen if water was protected and cared for through a binding international law? What might global cooperation for worldwide ecological healing look like? Find out more about the World Water Law and its global initiative and sign the petition.
Holistic spirituality, by definition, must include all colors—of humans and other-than humans. As we learn to see each part of this vividly colored ecological community of which we are a part, we no longer gasp at the miracle of the rainbow. No, miraculous colors surround us each and every day—the emerald leafy ones waving through the breeze, the rich mahogany soil underneath our feet, and every shade of blue we meet.
Keep reading: “Healing Power of Water.”