WaterBearer: Archetype of the Aquarian Age

The 3rd International Women and Water Conference was held from February 25–28, 2005 in India. Vandana Shiva, an environmentalist and author of the book, Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit, was a participant.

She says, “Water is a woman's issue. All over the world women are making decisions about water.” Interesting ... water as a woman's issue! The WaterBearer is emerging. And women are taking the lead under her influence in many ways and many places. This exhibit of SoulCollage® collages is one.

A friend gave me a little blue ceramic bowl and instructions for a daily water ritual, and I have been doing one each day for several years as a constant reminder to “conserve water.” This is how it goes: Early every morning I mindfully fill my blue bowl with water at the bathroom tap; then, I carry it into the room where I do my meditation. It remains there on a table for the day. At night, just before bed, I give thanks and pour the water into a plant. Then I place the empty bowl on my sink, ready for the morning.

I added this to those instructions: All the while I am filling my blue bowl and carrying it from one room to another, I repeat these lines by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Let no one say that I don’t love life, the eternal Presence: I pulsate in her; she bears me; she gives me the spaciousness of this day, the primeval workday for me to make use of, and over my existence flings , in her magnanimity, nights that have never been. Her strong hand is above me, and if she should hold me under, submerged in fate, I would have to learn how breathe down there. Even her most lightly entrusted mission fills me with songs of her; although I suspect that all she really wants is for me to be vibrant as she is. (Fragment of an Elegy, Appendix to Duino Elegies, translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Try learning this by heart and saying it aloud. Say it in praise of the WaterBearer.

The WaterBearer Archetype

For over two thousand years, the archetype of the LightBearer has been foremost in human spiritual life—certainly, at any rate, in our western world. The Greeks told the story of the mortal Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and brought it back to humankind. There was Christ, who brought Light into a dark world, and Moses, who brought the light of law. Buddha brought the hope of enlightenment. The light symbol is also present in the Prophet of Islam. Each can be seen as an embodiment of the LightBearer archetype. These examples are, notably, all male. The absence of a powerful feminine archetype over the last few millenniums may well be one cause of the present imbalance in both our worldly and spiritual lives—an imbalance that threatens the world and all its living populations.

I am certain that we live in a time when a feminine archetype is rising back into human consciousness—one that has been active and brooding deep in the world’s cosmic subconscious for eons. She is emerging and taking her place beside the male LightBearers—not for the purpose of domination but, rather, balance. By adding her strong heart energy and compassionate “waters” to the light-giving wisdom of the male LightBearers, she restores to our spiritual lives a potent and missing metaphor. I call this archetype the WaterBearer.

WaterBearer by Seena FrostThis archetypal WaterBearer truly is rising! We are now in the astrological Age of Aquarius, and the traditional symbol of this age is the WaterBearer. This metaphorical Being is usually represented as a feminine archetype. No historical or even mythical characters leap to my mind as embodiments of her in western mythology or religion.

Since the 5th century in China, however, the goddess Kwan Yin—powerful and beloved archetype of Compassion in Buddhism—is representative of the WaterBearer. She is often pictured pouring water from a small jar, symbolizing the pouring out of compassion and mercy on all beings. Kwan Yin’s image is now becoming popular in the west, especially in this form as a provider of loving water for the thirsty soul. Her emergence in our collective western psyche is another indication of the rising of the WaterBearer in human psyches all over the planet—especially in the souls of women. She will soon have many imaginal embodiments and names, and water is her most precious physical gift. It is a symbol for renewing life.

My personal journey towards consciousness of the WaterBearer archetype has been gradual and lifelong. Perhaps it began when I was born in February under the sign of Aquarius, which—although an “air sign”—has as its symbol the WaterBearer. Water has always been an element I love. To celebrate my birthday one year not long ago, I went swimming with the humpback whales off the Dominican Republic coast. While on this adventure, I discovered my whale spirit guide who has apparently been with me for years, although I had not previously recognized her. Her name, she told me, is Darshan. Looking into her huge eye is, for me, to absolutely look into the Mystery of the Source of everything. I collaged a card to honor Darshan—this guide—and I have it in my SoulCollage® deck.

I made another card for the WaterBearer archetype herself, and she has become more and more real to me ever since I began to consult the images on this card. I am discovering that the WaterBearer, as she reveals herself to me, is even fiercer than the usual Kwan Yin embodiments of this archetype. While compassion is still her major attribute, she also has wild strength and great passion. She holds both anger and sadness that her gift of life-giving water has been so abused.

This archetype requires action, mindfulness and sacrifice, and demands that we awaken to the preciousness of her gift. Both death and life alike are within the WaterBearer’s power. She embodies a quality akin to the Hindu goddess Kali, for she will destroy as well as revive life. We were all astonished by her global powers of devastation—from the merciless Asian tsunami of 2004, to the intense storms of 2005 causing landslides and death in the United States. We may honor and let her work through our lives, yet we cannot begin to control or contain her.

An Exhibit is Born

I suddenly had the idea to exhibit collages that would image and honor the WaterBearer. Next, an invitation to exhibit at the Galeria Tonantzin in San Juan Bautista, California in February 2005 synchronistically arrived. The theme of the world’s water crisis with emphasis on the archetypal WaterBearer was quickly and eagerly agreed upon. Having an art gallery willing to do a month-long exhibit of a group of collages that are almost all not-for-sale SoulCollage® cards is a remarkable thing. Galeria Tonantzin was willing to support such an exhibit in the hopes that it might contribute in some way to the raising of consciousness around water.

When I sent out an invitation to the SoulCollage® community to participate, the response was equally quick and enthusiastic. Some women had already made cards for this archetype. Many others, however, set out to create one—inspired by the exhibit, yet also experiencing their own call by the WaterBearer and wanting her represented in their decks.

Our message was so well-received that, a few months later, the exhibit moved north to the Davis Art Center in Davis, California, through the efforts of Facilitators Sue Gelber and Sara Post.

Preservation of Water - Preservation of Life

Water! Our bodies are mostly made of it…and, yet, we so take it for granted. Every day in our papers there is some conference about water or dispute about water. The United Nations has declared the next 15 years, beginning in 2005, as the critical period when all of us must face and solve the water crisis. The U.N. has tried time and again to change its basic Charter to declare water as a human right—yet, changing this language continues to be rejected by several industrial countries that fear such a concept might interfere with their national economies.

As I conclude, I considered writing a list of water “dos and don’t's." I know, however, that this is not necessary. You already know all the “conserving water’” things—like not letting your sprinkler water run in to the street and down the gutter. We have wasted and poisoned our supplies. We are finally recognizing that this heedlessness must change; and, indeed, it is beginning to change.

In the past decade, water has risen higher and higher on everyone’s list of conscious concerns, locally as well as worldwide. We have become aware that earth’s supply of fresh water is diminishing. Rivers are drying up in many places. Beautiful lakes are polluted with our waste, and wildlife is dying.

The enemy of the WaterBearer is drought in all its forms. It is the drying up of soul due to our busyness and our lack of attention to matters of the heart. It is our continual disregard for her gifts of water—both physical and spiritual water—that she abundantly pours out and upon which our lives depend.

May this exhibit awaken in you an awareness of your own thirsts and guardianships, both exterior and interior.

Copyright © 2005 by Seena Frost  (March 2005)