Water Bearer is my chosen spirit name. I am an Aquarius in the astrological chart, so it feels right. The many images of young girls and women carrying water from the well have always intrigued and satisfied me. I can feel the dust on my feet, the lightness of the empty vessel, and the struggle to lift it once full. I can imagine the journey to the well -- hot sun on my face, maybe wishing I had started out earlier to avoid the heat of the day. Was the water sweeter when the effort of bearing it was done with a glad heart? Was there a brackish taste if the task was done with resentment and anger?
We don't carry water these days -- not the way it used to be carried. It's brought to us through pipes, stored in man-made lakes, held back by dams to be released when needed. We divert rivers, build aquaducts, force it where it wasn't meant to go so that we can make cities, grow crops in arid deserts, and fill swimming pools. We have captured its energy to fuel electric grids to feed our incessant need for more power.
We fill our rivers and oceans with the waste from our factories and mines, from the ugly processes of pulling coal and oil from the earth. We send our sewage to the sea and even the rainwater collects our detritus as it runs down the gutters and carries all in its way to the oceans.
Is the idea of finding pure streams in the desert or deep artisian wells just a dream now? I wonder. The earth does what it can to protect itself. It has secrets we have not learned and may never learn. But we do know that we cannot live without water.
I carry water to the potted plants in my garden, to the spots the automatic sprinklers do not reach. It's a satisfying task. I imagine the thirsty roots, see the dusty leaves, and watch the dry earth become dark as the water percolates through the pot. I fill my tea kettle with water and carry tea to my guests. Will you choose the chestnut? The Earl Grey fragrant with bergamot rind? Or perhaps a smokey green?
And then, somewhat late in life, I learn that there is another meaning to 'carrying water' - a darker meaning. It is like a slap in the face. I'd never heard it before, and it knocked me sideways. I was trying to persuade a co-worker to see another co-worker's point of view. "Don't carry water for him!" he replied. I had never heard that before. Was that what I was doing? How? And how often had I done that over my life? How often do I still do that?
I saw myself as trying to make peace, trying to give information that perhaps hadn't been heard or understood. I wasn't doing it well. I sat with this new concept of carrying water for someone else for a very long time. Eventually I realized that throughout my life I had been trying to do just that, in every tense situation where I had been triangulated. The water I carried wasn't mine to carry, and because it wasn't, it served no purpose. It was wasted.
What I learned is that eventually we all must carry our own water. We must drink from the well that suits us, and that may not be what someone else needs or wants. Can we offer to share our water? Of course, and we should. But refusal or rejection of that offer is not to be taken as an offense.
So I try to remember this as I water the plants that live in my garden. Does this one really need watering? Or has it had enough for now? Does that one need more? They let you know. Attune yourself. And as for me? I will go to the wells that I trust, that I know have what I need. And you will find yours.