Water is such a life giving force that it symbolizes the flow of life energy itself. It is a rather mysterious substance, given that it has the ability to flow through, over and round objects. It has the quality of being able to wear away anything that gets in its way. It can symbolize spiritual rebirth. In baptism, water is a cleanser of previously held ‘sins’, often also those inherited from the family.
Psychological / Emotional Perspective:
Water symbolizes our emotions under all sorts of different circumstances so images associated with it are very evocative. Below are some such representations:
Bathing suggests purification.
Canals symbolize the birth process.
Dams, islands and other obstacles are conscious attempts to control the force of the water, and, therefore, our emotions.
Diving represents going down into the unconscious, or perhaps trying to find the parts of ourselves that we have suppressed.
Drowning highlights our ability to push things into the unconscious, only to have them emerge as a force that can overcome us.
Floods represent the chaotic side of us, which is usually uncontrollable. This side requires attention when it wells up and threatens to overwhelm us.
Fountains suggest womanhood, and particularly the Great Mother.
A lake, like a pool, can signify a stage of transition between the conscious and the spiritual Self. When come upon unexpectedly it can give us the opportunity to appreciate and understand ourselves. To be reflected in a pool indicates we need to come to terms with the Shadow. We must learn to accept that there will be a part of ourselves that we do not like very much but, when harnessed, it can give much energy for change.
Overflows and overflowing can signify an excess of energy, often emotion that is too much to be contained.
Rivers or streams always represent our lives and the way that we live them. It will depend on our attitude as to whether we see our life as a large river or a small stream. If the river is rushing by we may feel that life is moving too quickly for us. If we can see the sea as well as the river, we may be aware that a great change needs to occur or that attention must be paid to the unconscious within. Crossing a river indicates great changes. If the river is very deep we should perhaps be paying attention to the way we relate to the rest of the world. If the river is frightening we are perhaps creating an unnecessary difficulty for ourselves. If the water in the river appears to be contaminated we are not doing the best we can for ourselves.
Seas or oceans very often represent Cosmic Consciousness – that is, the original chaotic state from which all life emerges. Inherent in that state is all knowledge – i. e. completeness – although that may be obscured by our fear of deep emotion; we do not fear that which we understand. A shallow sea suggests superficial emotion. The waves in the sea represent strong emotion and passion. A calm sea suggests a peaceful existence, while a stormy one signifies passion, either negative or positive. To be conscious of the rise and fall of the tides is to be conscious both of the passage of time and of the rise and fall of our own emotions.
Waterfalls symbolize any emotion that reaches the stage where it must ‘spill over’in order to become manageable.
Everyday Material Aspects:
Water is usually taken in dreams to symbolize all that is emotional and feminine. Water can also stand for our potential and our ability to create a new life for ourselves in response to our own inner urgings. Water also represents cleansing, being able to wash away the contamination that we may experience in everyday life. Water appears so often in dreams as an image, with so many different meanings, that it is possible only to suggest some probable ones. Entering water suggests new beginnings and being immersed in water is a return to the womb and can suggest pregnancy and birth. Flowing water signifies peace and comfort, while rushing water can indicate passion. Deep water suggests the unconscious and can also indicate that we feel out of our depth, while shallow water represents a lack of essential energy. To be on the water (as in a boat) can represent indecision or a lack of emotional commitment, while to be in the water but not moving can suggest inertia. Going down into water indicates a need to renew one’s strength, to go back to the beginning, while coming up out of the water suggests a fresh start.