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March 06, 2018     Post 90
Personhood For Lakes?

Personhood for Nature in time for World Water Day March 22

"fantasy is a way to make people think differently"- prof. Alan Marshall author of Ecotopia


A recent news story about Capetown South Africa stated that a water shutoff for 4 million people there could last up to six months limiting people initially to 13 gallons, maybe going down to 6.5 gal. The story said average U. S. person goes through around 80 gal a day.

These stories will be seen more often in the near future. Water shortages world wide are a slow moving (inexorable) train wreck.

Part One

Nymphs, Nyaids, Sprites-call her Morganna, or Kelpie or Suijin- every culture has them. Water spirits and animate entities abound in and around rivers springs lakes and the ocean. They're often female, not surprisingly considering the birth waters of women, and they may be benign or malevolent.

Salt water has mermaids and sirens, as well as a throng of other deities. It's probably no coincidence that the ancient root word for 'mother' sounds much like that for the ocean. Many of the nymphs and water spirits had beautiful singing voices. Sit or walk by a woodland brook on a spring day and you will hear them.

The ocean's waters were the cradle of life. Jaws and backbones developed in the ancient Permian era sea. Once we figured out how to crawl and gulp air, we climbed ashore and continued the long intricate evolutionary dance towards mammary glands, placentas and internal birth. But water was always with us, and to this day our own offspring spend the first months of life safely enclosed an a protective little sea of salinity, the amniotic sac.

Shape shifting water lends itself to mystery. It's beautiful movements sounds and the many ways it plays with light fascinate endlessly. Consider the rainbow that made its way into the Bible when Noah was floating around. And then there's the dark side of water as in that destructive flood that prompted his venture in boat building.

Ancient paleo people in a decent habitat with abundant food and shelter, undoubtedly had a fair amount of time to observe water in its various forms. Written tradition holds that every well and spring had its own spirit in ancient Greece and Rome, and considering how mysterious it is to see pure crystalline water welling up out of the earth it's not hard to understand the reverence ancients had for such places. I was amazed once when a sudden artesian well burst through the sidewalk in a town in eastern Nebraska. Unfortunately it was too polluted with nitrates for anyone to drink.

In Rothskilde, home to a huge cathedral on a hill where since the 12th century the kings of Denmark have been buried water pours forth from a number of springs, one from a rock marker right in the middle of a main city street. Even a casual tourist with no knowledge of the city's ancient and sometimes bloody past feels an almost eerie sense of power upon seeing the gush of water pouring out of an old hand laid stone structure as it has for at least five centuries.

Even the patriarchal Christian tradition that in general has not particularly respectful of the ecology around us as it displaced the more nature friendly pagan traditions, holds water in respect when it's associated with the sacrament of baptism.

The Lake Ontario region is part of Turtle Island-a land surrounded by a primal ocean according to indigenous legend. The Haudenosaunee confederacy that ruled these lands for many centuries had an uneasy relationship with the lakes. There were nasty creatures lurking in the depths and those who travelled on the water with frail canoes were wary of the power around them.

But they also treated their water with respect and reverence. The relationship between water and women holds here too. It is the clan mothers who lead the water walks of our modern era

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