A Practice in Forest Healing: Water Gazing

Photo Credit:  Indigodeep
Water, the realm of the Sea, one of the Three Worlds in Druid philosophy. In working with this element and realm, the below practice has been revealed to me by the Awen. I have found it to be greatly beneficial in emotional healing, and have even adapted it for use in Fáistine (second sight).  May you find this working as beneficial as I have.

Water Gazing

"Water is the commonest symbol for the unconscious.

The lake in the valley is the unconscious, which lies, as it were, underneath consciousness, so that it is often referred to as the “subconscious,” usually with the pejorative connotation of an inferior consciousness.

Water is the “valley spirit,” the water dragon of Tao, whose nature resembles water- a yang in the yin, therefore, water means spirit that has become unconscious." ~ Carl Jung

Often in dreams, large bodies of water (oceans, lakes, pools) symbolize the unconscious. As with bodies of water, we often see the surface, but cannot easily see into the depths.

Also, the vastness of the ocean symbolizes the vastness of the unconscious mind. Jung observed long ago that the unconscious mind was much vaster than the conscious portion. His insight has been confirmed by fascinating developments in neuroscience, where new technologies, such as particularly sophisticated MRIs have enabled brain scientists to see that the unconscious processes in the brain dwarf the conscious mind in magnitude. For each of us, much goes on in the depths of those oceanic waters.

An ancient method of tapping into the unconscious waters of the mind is known as "water gazing", or more modernly known as 'scrying'. The word “scrying” actually comes from the Old English word descry which means “to make out dimly” or “to reveal.” Scrying is NOT about seeing the future as many modern day practitioners proclaim. The future can’t be seen, it can only be speculated based on present moment information.

Therefore, scrying (in this case 'Water Gazing') is about revealing the unseen through the use of our in-born second sight. Fáistine (second sight) is our capacity to see things that can’t usually be perceived through our five senses.
(Not to digress, but we shall discuss the practice of "hydromancy -divination by water" at a later time in our later discussion of the twenty five magickal Ogham artes)

Scrying was first mentioned in the 10th Century in an Ancient Persian text called the “Shahnameh.” Later, as Christianity rose to power, scrying was outlawed as a work of the “devil.” And yet almost every culture has used some form of scrying: from the Native American’s observation of smoke, to the Egyptians use of oil gazing to gain wisdom. These days, scrying has largely evolved into a pagan practice. To avoid any sort of religious connotation, I choose to subscribe to the term "Water Gazing" for this particular practice.

As Jung posits "Water is related to the unconscious". When one is looking to get to the root of one's struggle (be it addiction, depression, anxiety, etc.), water gazing is a simple method to begin to understand the root of the issue so that it may be dealt with. Here is a foundational method.

Step 1 - Leave your neighborhood and enter the naturehood! The forest is a natural filtration system taking in the negative energies we may be experiencing, and converting those negative energies into a more holistic energy. It is no coincidence that when one takes a walk in the forest to clear one's head, one often leaves the forest feeling refreshed.

The energy of the forest is the dominant force, thus it saturates one much like a sponge filled with milk that clean water is being poured upon. The clean water eventually overcomes the milk until the sponge is filled with only the clean water. This experience alone is greatly beneficial.

Step 1 -Take a walk into a wooded area in search of a puddle of water, pond, lake, sinkhole, etc. If you are in a more urban area without access to such a place, add some plants to a quiet spot in your home, and fill a wooden bowl (darker the better) with water (preferably mineral water which can be bought in the grocery store)..

Step 2 - Sit before the body of water with the intention held that you wish to understand the root of the issue you are facing.

Step 3 - Begin to take very slow, deep, deliberate breathes. As you inhale, focus on the rising of your belly at the navel area. As it rises, mentally notate "rising". As if falls, mentally notate "falling". Do this for as long as it takes to still your mind from the conscious thoughts that flood within. If you lose track, do not become emotionally disturbed. Simply let them go and return to focusing on the breath until you feel ready to move to the next step. (Some find it beneficial to do this with shamanic drumming -recorded or live- to aid in a trance like state. This was a common practice for the ancients).

Step 4 - With your mind now calmed, focus deeply on the reflective surface of the water (keeping the eyes relaxed). You are not seeing so much with the eyes, but more with the mind's eye. Allow yourself to feel enveloped by the embrace of the experience, but do not lose focus on the surface of the water.

Step 5 - Envision the depths of that water rising to the surface revealing that which is underneath. Allow your subconscious mind to take over (even let it wander). Do not try and guide the meditation into seeing something in particular, but rather let things come into light as they are. Stay focused intently on the surface of the water. Words, images, and even whole scenes may come into play. It is here that one has begun to "tap the root" in the healing process.

Step 6 - When you 'feel' as though your Water Gazing session is over, begin ruminate on the words, images or scenes that were presented to you. Look out for symbolism, analogy and metaphor. Recall them in as vivid detail as possible.

Step 7 - Write them in a journal for later reflection. Some sessions you may be able to immediately interpret the words, images, or scenes that have come to light, at other times, you may not understand them until further sessions.  Often, foresight comes through and not realized until journaled.

While this method of Water Gazing may not be a solution to the issues one faces, with practice, it becomes an invaluable technology to facilitate discovering the root of the issue at hand so that the next step in the healing process may be initiated.