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Observations placeholder

Watson, Lyall - Water symbolism



Type of Spiritual Experience


Water = spirit input

A description of the experience

Lyall Watson – The Water Planet

Water is deep.  It holds the shadows and darker shades, and is linked with sleep, the unconscious and death.  To look into it too long is to court the fate of Narcissus.  Edgar Allan Poe’s inspirations abound in such heavy water imagery, in which ‘the lily lolls upon the wave’ and dark rivers flow through ‘the meadows of sorrow’.

Water is pure.  It wets and washes everything, renewing and reviving, making it possible for us to be born again.  It is crystal, clear, limpid, the ‘adorner and refresher of the world’.  It is something holy, performing, in the words of John Keats a ‘priest-like task of pure ablution round earth’s human shores’.

Water is fresh.  It serves us directly, soothing, cooling, and quenching our thirst.  It is the source of peace and reveries, something sweet and gentle, designed to ease our pain.  The presence of salt in it is a perversion, the stuff of nightmares like those of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who found ‘Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink’.

Water is alluring.  It drags people down to the shore.  It sends young men to sea.  You can watch it for hours, it goes on and on, exerting an attraction like no other substance.

Water moves.  Like blood or milk washing to and fro in the womb.  Passing in Percy Bysshe Shelley’s image, ‘through the pores of the ocean and shores’, changing but never dying

…It is ungraspable, a very lively phantom

The source of the experience

Watson, Lyall

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps