I was a child living in a small southern town in Tennessee, known as, Red Boiling Springs – the home of the annual folk medicine festival and the place of the healing waters. My mother and two brothers lived just on the outskirts of the central part of town on top of a small mountain within a lush, thick-aired pine tree forest. One of our daily chores was collecting water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing. I remember carrying one-gallon plastic jugs light in my hands as I danced down the dusty path to the springs. The springs trickled with fresh mountain water and was a spot that we tapped into by inserting a small PVC pipe into the running water and then funneling the water into our jugs. It was always a visceral experience gathering the water, listening to its gurgling, bubbling sounds and feeling the jug get heavy in my hands. It would fill to the top and then over flow icy cold onto my small hands. Sometimes I was sent to the springs by myself to fill just a couple of gallons and other times my two brothers and I were sent. There was a small creek next to the mountain spring and my brothers would leave me to do the job of filling the jugs as they played by the creek.
Walking home we’d try to carry two jugs in each hand. Those plastic jugs were suddenly weighted down and I remember abruptly dropping them down to the ground every few feet or so to sigh and gather my strength. This was not my favorite part of gathering the waters but once home it was as if all was good again. Life could continue.
Now as an adult of two children and one on the way I look back on those times as a profound gift. I really learned the importance and beauty of the water. I learned that water is life!
And now-a-days the water of my tears flow too often with grief that my children do not have the same clean pure resource of water that I had just thirty years ago. There are political battles going on right now for the ownership and control of the waters. Since the industrial age, waters are being funneled through right-angled metal and plastic piping into our homes, schools and restaurants. There is a mainstream thought that water works for us and is a commodity which can be bottled and sold and that there is plenty of water to just turn on the faucet and use as much as we please.
What will happen to the precious resource we call water? What about the future of our Mother Earth and the generations to come? Is it our responsibility to fix this problem and how do we do this?
This past summer I was visited by a holy being water keeper. She came in a water prayer lodge and spoke wisdom that answered the questions in my heart. She appeared in the middle of the lodge, clothed in white fabric from her head to her toes. Her face was the face of all races of women combined and she was kneeling next to the sacred water vessel in the middle of the pitch dark lodge. She began to speak and I heard:
“At this time it is the women who will stand up for the sacred waters. They are the caretakers of the waters and are the leaders of humanity’s awakening. They will care for all water, the oceans, lakes, springs, waterfalls, rivers, rain and the waters within the body. Women’s prayers, songs, stories and rituals are greatly needed, more than ever at this time. Women everywhere and from all traditions are being called to gather around the waters and listen, pray and act on behalf of the waters and ultimately help humanity learn to appreciate, honor and care for the holy waters or life cannot continue for all relations. And the men will help you protect the waters. The men are also awakening and will participate in this important work and will hold a circle around the women, offering their hearts and hands where they are needed. This will be a collaborative journey back to right relations and the women will initiate this movement.”
And she gazed further into the vessel of water and spoke again:
“Water is the original mirror – fluid, multi-layered, translucent, malleable and always changing. When the ancestors first saw their own reflection it was in the sacred waters and what they saw were shapes that shifted based on light and the elements. They saw this reflection as a gift from Creator as a tool to gaze at the mystery of life. Now our mirrors have become fixed and hardened and we see too many details and judge what we see on the surface. Now we see light skin, dark skin, long noses, round eyes and are quick to judge our own selves and those around us. Go to the water relatives and remember the wisdom of water as a mirror. Soften your gaze, look beyond the surface and the details – realize we are made of water, holy, beautiful, changing and affected by all of life. Don’t be too attached to your image dear relatives. You are made of light and will one day return to the stars and to the earth.”
And with that spoken she picked up the vessel of water in her hands, sat up straight, lifted her gaze and spoke:
“Water is the original medicine. All you need for healing is and can be infused in water. And whatever you give, sing or speak to the water that is what it becomes. Relatives, it is time to awaken to this wisdom. Remember the womb waters from which you emerged held everything you needed to grow and live and then when you were born your mother’s water and blood turned to milk and you drank and received all that you need. And somewhere along the journey you forgot that water is your source of life and you started falsely believing in man-made material things to give you what you need. Remember it is as simple as breathing good thoughts and words into the water and the water becomes medicine for you. And yet your thoughts, actions and words spoken are actually creating toxic water in your bodies and on the planet because you forgot water is the original medicine. Remember relatives! Awaken to the wisdom that water has the power to heal if you but only become aware of this truth and start honoring the water, start speaking and treating the water with loving words and actions. Sing to the waters your gratitude songs, hold the waters in your vessels with care and all that you need for true health and vitality will be provided. The waters love and honor you. Thank you for listening to me relatives. I am the caretaker of the waters. I care for life and I care for you!”
And she disappeared and I was back in the lodge of the water ceremony. My heart swelled with potent truth, my eyes were washed clean, I breathed in this potent wisdom and breathed out gratitude.
And I sit here now remembering my childhood and gathering the sacred waters and how that gift is still living in me. Thanks to my mother who bravely made a choice to live close to nature. And as I recall; my brothers and I were never in a hospital during the years we lived off the land and we were hardly sick. And if I was ever feeling sick my mother would say “Go Madi and get a bowl of water” She then would sing and pray over that water and feed it to me. To this day I remember that teaching and I strive to do this with my own children. May they also remember that water is sacred and can be turned into good healing medicine. And may all beings realize the beauty, wisdom and love of the holy waters. Aho!
Thank you! Wado, Mitakuye Oyasin!