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Sunlight looking up from below surface of water
"In the third month
of autumn
it blows down the leaves
to open up
the second month's
On the river
are waves
of a thousand feet."
-Li Qiao

Blog Feature: Nature's Archetypes

The Abysmal Water, a common symbol in dreams, is an element that suggests both danger and opportunity. The image of water reminds us to be fearless in delving into the mysterious depths of our unknown nature. It demonstrates great power in its ability to overcome all obstacles in its path and flows ever onward. It can coach us to remain still to be strengthened by difficulty. When it approaches a barrier, it appears still and yet, continues to grow in volume and energy. It takes no aggressive action, and always "evens out", suggesting a temperament where power can grow from stillness.

Crossing the Great Water suggests perseverance in the face of danger. It offers a change in perspective when we can look back from a distant shore.

Since ancient times, Water has symbolized the treasure of potential that can rise from the mysterious. Whether in Mimir’s well, where Odin is empowered to learn the secrets of the future; beneath the sea that held the coveted plant of immortality for Gilgamesh; or in the symbol of King Arthur's sword, guarded by the Lady of the Lake, there is always a treasure to be retrieved if we can fearlessly delve beneath its surface. The Masters called this element the Abysmal or Profound.

Water is a symbol of all that remains unknown to us because of fear. Like the Shadow, while it remains unintegrated it holds us back. Symbolizing danger, within these depths are also the frightening things that remain unseen.

The Water is home to the great sea monsters, Leviathans and the serpent biting its tail as an image of wholeness and integration. Portrayed as monsters, we discover ancient images that were merely the religious symbols of nearby enemies. In this way, anything that remains unknown is freely given over to fear.

The snake worshipping cults and fertility goddesses of antiquity were celebrated as symbols of renewal and regeneration. When we abandoned the idea of a regenerative world, we also abandoned the idea that life was good. Anytime we peak into the unknown, we will discover the type of renewal that comes from overcoming fear.

Dreams embody integration and change.
Water in dreams reveals how we feel about these changes.

In dreams, Water can overwhelm and threaten us, and how it behaves suggests the ways in which we are currently approaching change in our lives. Perhaps that is why the image of water continues to suggest the wellspring of what lies hidden below the surface. It remains an extremely potent symbol of our unrecognized potential for empowerment.

We are composed primarily of this element and it is imperative to our survival. Resembling the composition of the human body, 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. Whether erecting Neolithic alters of worship or building agrarian civilizations in river valleys, Water has always been a central element of our existence.

The work of Dr. Masuru Emoto shows how water responds in much the same way as human emotions. He detected a response where the harmonic vibrations of music reflected beautiful symmetry in its crystal formations. On the other hand, frozen water observed within a negative environment demonstrated chaotic and irregular crystal formations. He measured this phenomenon in tap and spring water from various sources around the world, and discovered that water in nature reflected symmetry more than the water that we process in treatment facilities.

Similarly, water represents the way that experience flows through us. As the elixir of life, it can symbolize the healing process that can bring about renewal. In many myths, Water is home to the great shape-shifter, masking the truth about our regenerative and pro-creative powers. What remains untapped in our unconscious can lend itself to the shape shifting mechanism of projection, where we observe the world as a way of validating our beliefs. When we Cross the Great Water to look back from a another shore, we learn to take responsibility for the situations we create.

K’an the Abysmal yet, profound symbol of Water is associated with early winter. It has a firm, Yang line at its center while surrounded by lines that open and release. K’an reveals the power of our center and how we hold to it when everything around us is dying away. If we refuse to let go of what is no longer necessary, it feels dangerous. However, we are sometimes released by the Abysmal current to be swept into the great river of life. In this way what appears dangerous can also release us.

As we see nature in its decaying form, the world grows darker. The Creative energy recedes around us, and we must turn inward to find the light that will lead us forward. If we hold too tightly to a center that is not authentic, the great river will lead us into a deluge of change.

The Master said: “The town can be changed, but the Well cannot be changed.” We can build our homes anywhere, but we take our inner Wellspring wherever we go. As the source of our inspiration, dreams and intuition allow us to access our unfathomable depths. “Discover the Well before you are thirsty."

"Concerned with what is inside and not what is seen outside, one abandons the ‘that’ to lay hold of the ‘this.’”

The difference between ‘this’ and ‘that’ is ownership. This resides in the Abysmal Water and becomes the image of accessing the depths our mysterious te. “We could spend a lifetime and still never come anywhere close to exhausting the resources that are inside of us.”

When we are trapped in a transformative process, inspiration rises, whether through dreams, intuition or events to reveal the ‘way through.’ Like the idea of 'ming' in Taoist philosophy, synchronicity is a word that describes this uniting process, where inner and outer experiences are drawn together.

Inspiration can link an outward event that appears coincidental, with information that makes that event personally meaningful. As we connect inspiration to an outward event, we find active intuition that validates both our inner processes and pathway. This innate knowledge merges with the pathway to become our destiny. Without our connection to this guiding source within, we may float aimlessly in the river of life.

Therapists explore dreams to uncover symbols that can re-empower a client in crisis.

Bringing the inner and outer together, the Masters spoke of ‘ming’ as destiny in the sense of the path, but also how the pathway leads one to self-actualize. “In the Great Circle, there is no separation.” Ming is the unified awareness achieved when ‘me in here’ and ‘that out there’ are integrated. “Everything is destiny; all things are already complete in oneself,” we need only open to how circumstances unfold to empower us.

In the Abysmal Waters of K’an, just like the unconscious, there is a riddle or a paradox to be solved. Something vital is seeking expression in the only way it can. Dreaming is a type of initiation that calls us deeper into the Water of the unknown. We discover the source of our dreams as the residence of ‘the one who knows within.’ The idea of danger associated with the Abysmal represents crisis, only when we fail to heed life’s message that we are on the wrong path.

We can fill a container with seawater but we cannot call what we have captured, the sea. The intangible nature of change refuses to be contained within our logical structures. Life is a flowing, changing and ceaseless phenomenon meant to orchestrate renewal. When the Abysmal Water destroys the structures we cling to, we find our deeper footing in life.