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The Sacred Symbolism of Water – The First Mirror For Mankind


Since water is affected by gravity, it naturally flows down from above. In fact, the visual symbol for water is a downward-pointing triangle. Water from an above place flowing down is active until it arrives in the below place. Water in downward movement is active and has more aspects of the masculine Yang in it. Water moving down finds symbolism in rivers which represent the linear flow of time. The most extreme form of water in downward movement is in waterfalls offering the most extreme symbolism of uncontained downward-moving water. Water at its most passive is symbolized by lakes and ponds and other small bodies of water. This type of water reflects because of its smooth surface and it is not surprising that this type of water draws people close to it to engage in the act of refection.

The oceans and other large bodies of water in the world are a type of middle ground between the activity of rivers and the passiveness and reflection of lakes. The symbol of agitated “troubled waters” has traditionally been related to the phantom flux of the material things of life and relates to the illusions and vanities of life. Agitated waters are more subject to climatic conditions involving wind than to geographic terrain. Deep waters such as seas, lakes, and wells have a symbolism related to the dead and the supernatural.

Water plays a major part in various weather phenomena. Rain storms and snow storms involve the free-fall of water from above to below. Floods occur when the containment of water fails. Tidal waves involve the movement of water by the element of the earth while hurricanes and tornados involve water movement through the element of air. Clouds, fog, humidity, and mist symbolize in-between states where water is mixed with air and becomes something like earth-bound clouds with certain elements of clouds. Like a time of twilight between night and day, water in this “twilight” state is represented by fog and mist.

In Ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphic sign for water was a horizontal zigzag line; the small sharp crests appear to represent wavelets or ripples on the water’s surface. When Egyptian artists wished to indicate a volume or body of water, such as a lake or a pool, or the primeval ocean, the zigzag line is placed vertically and multiplied in an equally spaced pattern. Water can also be signified by horizontal wavy lines.

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