It is easy to see how the four elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air are the basis of the physical world in which we live. Our bodies are made up of these elements and from the shamanic perspective, so are our personalities. We often use expressions that illustrate this such as “going with the flow”, “keeping your feet on the ground”, “all fired up” and “lost in space”. Understanding how we relate to the four elements can teach us a lot about ourselves, help us to grow and can support us through life’s many changes. Lets take a moment to consider the Water Element.
Water is an extremely adaptable element, so soft that you can move your hand through it yet so strong that it can bring down buildings. Over time, a slow drip of water can hollow out stone but when heated, water simply vanishes into thin air. We tend to think of our bodies as solid, but in fact our bodies are 60-70% water. There are fluids around every cell; inside our muscles, bones, joints and around our brain. Our inner world is most definitely a water world.
Within each of us the Water element governs the emotions, the world of deeper feelings, intuition and soul-knowing. The Water element also represents the unconscious, dreams, visions and psychic ability. People who are strong in the Water element tend to be sensitive, sympathetic, compassionate, good listeners and team players. However the Water element needs to be balanced by the practicality of the Earth element and the clarity of the Air element. Too much water can lead to emotional drama, delusions, addictions and obsessive behaviour. Cynicism, sarcasm and naivety are also indications of an imbalance in the Water element.
Shamanism is about learning from nature. If you sit quietly by the creeks, rivers and streams you can learn a lot from the nature of water. For example, water changes direction easily and from this we can learn to be flexible rather than fixed in our ideas and plans. When water reaches a significant or unmovable obstacle, it forges a new pathway around it and continues on its way. Water is unwavering in its course to flow downstream until it reaches the ocean and so too we can learn to be purposeful and persistent in our endeavours. Water needs to move to stay fresh and we all know what happens when water stays still for too long – it becomes stagnant. So when we are feeling stuck in ourselves, sluggish, unmotivated and unproductive, a quick swim or a cool shower can help us to get moving again!
Will you take a few moments to connect with the Water element today?
This article was written for Connect Magazine edition #78 March 2011