One day last year, walking along a nearby mountain stream, I entered a place that felt sacred and mysterious. Shaded by a grove of willows, the creek’s waters gently flowed and purled around some stepping stones, evoking a sense of quiet, of waiting. I felt the presence of a water spirit and started singing to her. Very soon she began to sing back. She ended up giving me a beautiful song, which I was fortunately able to echo and record, line by line, as she sang it. When it was over, with great gratitude I inquired, “is this a song from the Mother of the Waters?” And I heard very clearly: “No, it is a song from a Mother of the Waters.”
Last week (in the northern hemisphere) was the Fall Equinox—autumn’s beginning, the time of shortening days and cooler temperatures, when we start preparing for the coming winter. The Fall Equinox marks the time of the West on the ancestral Four-Directions Wheel. In the Celtic-Western sacromagical tradition that I work within, the element of the west is Water. Its qualities are Love, flowing, sustaining.
Water, like all the elements, embodies Gaia’s irresistible forces, which don’t always seem benign. Water can flood, it can hail, and it can withhold itself from the thirstiest places. But when we study it on the spiritual, energetic level, we find that water flows from an endlessly circulating place of calm and continuity. As I was told on that magical day by the stream, water has many mothers, all of whom transmit the Love that forever dwells in, and ceaselessly flows through, this uniquely indestructible element.
When we contemplate the Love carried by the Water element we can begin to dive deeper into its essence, and our own. Many of us feel that we “love” Nature, or the Green World, or whatever term we prefer. Indeed, my own love for the Sacred Land has always been my primary self-defining characteristic. Yet my understanding of what this love really is continues to deepen and broaden.
When we’re young, we say “I love you” to our parents, siblings, perhaps our pets or our little friends at school. We also hear it back— “I love you”—from family members, and, later, from spouse, friends and spiritual family. If we’re fortunate, we feel a love between us and others that is truly reciprocal, an exchange that flows back and forth.
Those of us who love the natural world also need to be open to this. It’s not hard for us to feel our love for the forests, the flowers, the birds—but we also need to be attentive enough to feel them loving us back! Within Mother Gaia’s realms, real love is never one-way.
From this, it’s only one more step to understanding Love as not simply a flow between 2 beings, but as a field within which all of Gaia’s life—human and non-human, material and spiritual—dwells and participates. When we are heart-focused, we can strengthen this field by mediating the love force we feel around us, and also by contributing to it from the love we have within us.
Another way to talk about this field is to say that Love exists within Gaia’s web—a living, resonating web that connects all beings, including human beings. We become good “nodes” for the web’s infinite strands by both mediating and generating the love-flow of Water.
The corniest campfire sing-alongs and the deepest spiritual laws all enjoin us to spread more love around. Meanwhile, the natural world, Gaia’s love organ, is becoming sadly tattered and diminished, more so every day. We can add our own deep, sustaining love into the Green World when we know Love as a field—not an isolated emotion, not even something between 2 people only, but an enduring, vibrating force, filling and fulfilling all existence.
The Mothers, like water, flow everywhere. In this autumn season, when Water’s power of Love is greatest, let’s seek and honor some of those many Water-Mothers, within us and within the Green World.