Water. It is one of the sacred 4 (or 5) elements to which all of life is dependent. Our waters run in rivers, oceans, rain falls from the sky, our bodies themselves are comprised of 50-65% (we are born with a higher percentage, decreasing with age) water, and life as we know it would not exist without Her. She is known as Mama Oshun, Venus, Mama Cocha, and so many other names across the globe in ancestral cultures. She is an entity unto Herself, and it is commonplace to recognize Her as such in indigenous cultures worldwide.
This article arose as an inspiration to share my personal wisdom and practice with the Ceremony of Water through the Sacred Art of Carrying Water.
For me, I feel Water is the Womb Water of our Mother Earth, the veins that connects all life, the beginning point of civilization and the reason for so much migration in nomadic ancestral peoples. It is the Breast Milk of Life to all of Creation. Through honoring Her, learning to speak Her language, I learn how to create ceremony in my everyday life around Her presence. I remember more of the Ancestral Ways and reverence for Nature that was once entirely collective in the human consciousness.
She has voice, inspires song, and each body of water has a story. The story of it’s life on this planet, that of the Nature forces (mountains, weather, animal life, plants) around Her. The evolution of life in an area with a body of water is completely intertwined with the energy of the Water Herself. Beaches have the aura that they do because of the ocean and the rainfall from the sea, the desert plants have strong power because of their relationship and evolution with rain, and a mountains rivers come from it’s peaks. All of these are interwoven stories of Life & Creation. Each has a story unique unto itself.
She also has stories of how she has evolved alongside humans, and that voice is rarely sought after or heard in our Modern Era. People see the waters as a place to recharge themselves for their own welfare, largely forgetting that all we take we must return in reciprocity. Where once civilization was founded on whether or not there was a presence of Water, now humans simply turn on the tap and drink without remembering that our ancestors’ evolution depended upon water. The polluted state of our planets waters is a reflection of a loss of remembrance in how to give reciprocity with Mother Nature, a loss of memory of how to give AND receive for the balance of life.
In the story of Mother Water, She remembers a time when humanity held ceremony for her, with her, and communed with her. She still remembers.
And as our Waters of this planet continue to become polluted with humanities loss of knowledge in how to live in balance, She asks for us to listen to her Water’s Song.
It has been my practice, for many years, to learn to listen to Her Song and Story, and from this I have developed my own practice for Water Ceremony that I would like to share with you here.
I first became introduced to the idea of carrying water through a dear sister of mine, whom carried a jar of Gila River water with her as she traveled. She sought out the river and would stay beside Her, gifting prayer and song to a New Mexican body of water that was becoming rapidly depleted of it’s abundance through forest fires, extreme dryness, and damming of her channels.
I later read in ‘The Book of the Hopi’, by Frank Waters, that the Water Clan in Hopi Stories, had a very extensive ceremonial care of the Waters of Earth, and that every clan had a Sacred Water Carrier that carried a clay pot that never ceased to give water to the people upon their travels. The elders of the Hopi speak about how water could be poured from the clay jars onto the earth and a water source would spring forth.
My calling to Water Ceremony began in a Cacao Ceremony in Peru with the Paititi Institute. We had drank the ceremonially prepared Mayan Recipe for the Cacao and activated the medicine through Amazonian Breath Work. The breath work entails breathing into each Chakra, from the Root up and from the Crown down again. Each Chakra has an element, the Sacral Chakra (Sexual Center) being represented by Water. As we began breathing into the Sacral Chakra I began a visionary journey with the Spirit of Mother Water. I felt her as Mama Ushun. She showed me the polluted waters of the planet, the dams, the taps and toilets. She showed me this not to scold me, but to show me her sadness that we had forgotten how to love Her, to show me that all I was seeing was a reflection of us forgetting the love She gives, how to honor Reciprocity of Life, and how to hold ceremony for our Waters. My experience was profound, and I was drawn to tears in my waking moment with Mama Ushun.
If we reflect upon the countless cultures, such as the Greeks, Japanese, and Romans, who had sacred bathhouses for which people attended for healing, we see that there is a cross-cultural connection between water and healing. We see too that sacred spaces of healing waters (i.e. New Mexican Hot Springs) were considered “Peace Lands” by the various nomadic peoples who roamed these terrains. The Lares, Los Banos Calientes in the Andes, were cherished by the Incas. In all of these examples, for hundreds or thousands of years, there were caretakers of these sacred water sites, as well as rituals that were performed at them for their well-being. We see that water in itself is a healing element that was highly respected, prized, and honored by ancestral peoples.
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And so, today, humanity largely seems to be absent in this conscious honoring of water. We no longer must migrate for our water, and therefore do not live in a time when our people’s very society, structure, and livelihood shifts as the waters do. Again, we simply turn on the tap, flush a toilet, and not think that our ancestors migrated their entire civilizations and built them based upon the availability of water on the planet. For us, it is simply an element of life that is not meditated upon, largely.
It has been my practice to uncover the relationship that is possible with water. Though I have no heritage recoverable in my lineage that has instructed me to do so, I have felt a calling to honor Water as a part of my shamanic practice upon this Earth.
My personal practice is this:
I spend a great deal of my transient energy visiting various bodies of water, or seeking them out in places that I find myself. I transport vials of water from various rivers, sacred sites and mountains, springs, and oceans with me in my altar. These waters I gather are for communing with other bodies of water, ritual, and ceremonies of various sorts.
I do not gather water from a body of water without first holding Altar Ceremony, praying and singing, speaking my intentions, and allowing that body of water to tell me their story or message. Sometimes I do not feel called to collect, if the voice of the water does not instruct me. Sometimes it isn’t through a ceremony that I feel called to collect, but sheerly by living beside Her and feeling her power in my every day life.
I always gift the water gifts of Cedar, Tobacco, and White Sage from my Cedar Bag before collecting. I generally travel and spend days or weeks, even months or years on a body of water that I develop relations with, so they know me and we’ve had time to commune in a way of ceremony and in simply living together.
An important element is introducing all of the other bodies of water to another before collecting water in the vials. This is to connect the water and their stories. So, for example, one river that is abundantly flowing may know the struggles of another that is not flowing so strongly, thus the line of communication, prayer, and support needed becomes established between them. The body of water also becomes aware of my reverence and stories unique to each body of water from the vials.
And so, in my practice of Water Ceremony as a Sacred Water Carrier, I plan my travel based on the bodies of water that I wish to meet, though sometimes I may meet one unexpectedly that asks for my Carrying. I set up my sacred space (see photo) and live by that body of Water. Sometimes it is only a few days, other times months. From here it is simply a practice of communication: meditating by the waters, singing, praying, ceremony, simply living. After a time, the Water will speak to you through your thoughts, in your energy awareness, and sometimes directly at an Altar. Through this process I have learned how to commune with water and when it is appropriate to gather water based on the messages of the waters themselves.
The rituals that may be done with the vials of water are endless. A particular practice for me, besides the prayer ceremonies, is that I also use a drop of each vial to charge my stones for Moon Ceremonies. I am a carrier of Yoni Egg medicine, and also Yoni Steams, so a great deal of my work involves Water. I gift the charging bowl, or steam bowl, a drop from each body of water and in this, I feel the power of each Sacred Water transmute into the stones and the steaming ceremonies.
These waters may also be used for baby blessings and other baptism rituals as well. I have also used these waters, alongside Water Pourers, in Lakota Sweat Lodges and other rituals where water is used as a part of the Ceremony. I frequently charge my sacred stones in my altar with these waters as well.
Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim, one of the 13 Grandmothers, is a well-known Water Carrier and holds prayers and ceremony for Water. Her photo is the featured image of this article. You may visit her page by clicking HERE.
In essence, what being a Sacred Water Carrier to me is beyond the element of carrying sacred vials for rituals and purpose. The ritual for me is praying with Water, allowing the ceremony that marked a beginning point in our peoples evolution to reemerge, and for the Water to feel that we are listening. Each body of water that I have sat with upon my Gypsy Priestess Journey has been extraordinarily unique in their story and message, and what they have felt as a result of human expansion and forgetfulness.
For me, I feel Water is the Womb Water of our Mother Earth, the veins that connects all life, the beginning point of civilization and the reason for so much migration in nomadic ancestral peoples. It is the Breast Milk of Life to all of Creation. Through honoring Her, learning to speak He language, I learn how to create ceremony in my everyday life around Her presence. I remember more of the Ancestral Ways and reverence for Nature that was once collective in the human consciousness.