by A. Sutherland

April 09, 2019
from AncientPages Website

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Over the centuries people have observed water and its powers and created myths and legends related to it.

Water has been credited with purification and healing effects. One of many water places associated with healing is the Chalice Well, in Glastonbury, England where people have been using the spring since 3000 years BC, glorifying these mineral rich waters for their healing powers.

The sea symbolizes the water of the "sea womb", which gave birth to the earth and all that lived on it, while 'to return to the sea' is 'to return to the mother', that is, to die.


All life arose once in the ocean, which is reflected in creation myths of many ancient cultures.

In the Vedas, water is referred to as "the most maternal" (mâtritamâh) because, in the beginning, everything was like a sea without light.


In India, this element is generally regarded as the preserver of life, circulating throughout the whole of nature, in the form of rain.


The Chinese consider water as the residence of the dragon, because all life comes from the waters.

The sea is also a symbol of the unconscious.


Deep water represents death and supernatural. Many gods, spirits and monsters are associated with the sea and with natural phenomena such as tsunami and whirlpool.


Poseidon's daughter Charybdis was changed into a sea animal and was most likely the personification of a dangerous whirlpool. Sailors who came too close to her risked dying.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) once said about the sea and the unconscious.

"The sea is the favorite symbol for the unconscious, the mother of all that lives."

The christian baptism symbolizes the cleansing and washing of the sin.


In Hinduism, water is used to bathe and purify god images used in rites.


Katsushika Hokusai:

The Great Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa.

Public Domain

Poseidon (in Roman: Neptunus) had the power to control all of the seas but he had also a hot temper.


He was highly respected by sailors and others who praised him in hope of keeping this god happy. It would probably guarantee smooth waters and a safe sea journey.

In Inuit mythology, Sedna was the goddess of the sea and the protector of the marine animals. She ruled over the underworld of the Inuit. The fishermen worshiped her to make sure of good catch.

Another god related to water, was Nun ("water"), one of the oldest of the ancient Egyptian gods. Usually depicted as a bearded man, with blue-green skin, resembling water. Nun was god of the watery primeval void, also called "the primeval waters".


In Aboriginal myth, the Wandjina Rain Spirit is the controller of the "Seasons" and the bringer of rain, which is crucial for life.

Rain makes everything grow; the fruit, the trees and the grass nourish animals, birds and people.

The constant movements of the waves symbolize stability, change, joy or sorrow and tide waves were linked with destruction and re-birth. In dreams, they are believed to symbolize fear of change.


The river symbolizes fertility, irrigation of our planet, the running water and reflects the creativity of nature and time.


It also symbolizes the border between two worlds:

the Land of the Dead and the Land of the Living.

In many cultures, some rivers can be sacred and they can be river gods as well.


Styx, for example, is a deity, the river of death and one of the five main bodies of water that bordered Tartarus in Greek mythology.


The goddess Ganga in Hindu beliefs represents the holy water of the river Ganges. Both Ganga and the river are worshipped as one, as this river plays a crucial role in the lives of the millions of Hindus in India.


Hapi was the early Egyptian god of the Nile River. He used the Nile's annual floods to feed the land and bring fertility. He provided water, food and the annual flooding of the Nile River.

According to Hindu legends and Puranas, waterfalls (with healing and purifying powers) serve as a bathing places for gods and other celestial beings who visit them.

A waterfall means positive energy, the flow of life, happiness, vigor and positive thoughts.


In the Shinto faith, waterfalls are sacred and stand beneath them is said to be purify one's soul. Tranquility, peace and contemplation are traditionally represented by waterfall.


In a Shinto shrine, the faithful wash their hands and rinse their mouth with water from a long wooden ladle before praying, putting their hands close to their face, bowing and meditating.


Flowing water also remains a fundamental element. Essential before diving in the bath or in hot springs, purifying oneself by washing is an expression of ancestral body purification rites, the Shinto believers say.

In China, lakes symbolize wisdom, receptiveness, and passivity. In Hinduism and Buddhism, temple lakes symbolize creation and transition to the next life.

In many cultures ponds, pools, and especially springs were believed to be abodes for water sprites, nymphs, or dangerous, prophetic demons.

In the past, water was sometimes a "judge".

Women who were suspected of being witches were thrown into deep water. If they drowned, they were considered innocent, but if they floated, they could be sentenced for witchcraft.

Water was used in witches' trials because it was believed that this "pure" element like water would reject those who were in league with the devil.