Water is one of the most essential elements to human life.
It is also one of the most abundant and ubiquitous substances on Earth.
But did you know that water also has a lot of hidden symbolism?
In this article, we'll explore 9 different ways that water can be symbolic.
Let's get into it!
The 9 Symbolic Meanings Of Water
There are many hidden symbolisms of water.
Below we discuss some of the key symbolic meanings of water.
Many of these deeper aspects of water mentioned are often interconnected as you will soon realize as you read and contemplate this article.
Symbolic Meaning #1. Adaptability
Water is a symbol of adaptability, this element is easily able to adjust to changing conditions.
It is no secret that water can exist in various states, with simple changes in stimuli water adapts to serve a new purpose.
Water can flow, freeze, dissolve or evaporate accordingly.
When we contemplate the way that water functions, it uncovers that water as an element and symbol offering an energy that is adaptable.
Symbolic Meaning #2. Non-Resistance
As mentioned above water often goes through many changes in state and function.
These processes happen quite easily with small changes in stimulus.
This points to another symbolic meaning of water which is that of non-resistance.
This is the element of flow. It does now resist the flow of the land or the cold of the freezer; it changes and moves with ease and grace.
Symbolic Meaning #3. Power
As we already discussed the non-resistant nature of water, it does not mean water lacks the power to effect powerful changes.
In its flowing movement, even hard rock can be naturally and gently sculpted by this element.
A movement of the earth can move water to form waves that flatten anything in its path.
Beyond being physically powerful, water can also be an emotionally and spiritually powerful element.
Especially when we learn more about how water works on a molecular level and how it is impacted by our emotions.
The spiritual potency of water becomes clear. We will cover this concept and research in more detail under the next heading within this article.
Symbolic Meaning #4. Cleansing
Another symbolic meaning of water is that of this element being cleansing or purifying. This is true on a physical level and beyond.
Water is considered to be a solvent as it can easily dissolve many substances.
Water has been used for spiritual or energetic cleansing and purification in so many cultures and religions.
We can observe this when we look at ritual ablutions such as baptisms, wudhu, or bathing in the Ganges
We can take a moment to consider deeply, the feeling that we get after a good swim in the ocean, a natural body of water, or even after a shower bath.
For me, the feeling often transcends just a physical cleansing but something much deeper.
It can feel almost like a fresh start after you immerse yourself in water (this can even be used intentionally as a practice).
Symbolic Meaning #5. Fertility
Water is essential for the beginning of life and the sustenance of life. We are formed for the first 9 months of our life inside the water like fluid of the womb.
The first fluid that we drink is our mother's milk which contains water, and we will need to drink water every day in order to stay alive.
We eat foods that need water to grow. The seeds of the plants that we eat and breathe need water to awaken and more water to continue growing.
When we remember this, it is clear that water is symbolic of fertility and growth.
The presence of water indicates that humans and the earth are fertile and that we can continue to grow.
Symbolic Meaning #6. Feminine energy
This is interlinked with the contemplations in the above point. Water can also be symbolic of feminine energy.
As females hold water in our womb to grow children.
Similarly to the role of water in life, females also tend to the basic nourishment of ourselves, those around us, and the earth.
Water is also symbolic of feminine energy because of its flow, its graceful and powerful nature, which is synonymous with aligned feminine energy.
Both females and water are cyclical in nature.
We naturally go through various states in a cycle, and each state serves a particular purpose.
The movement of water is also known to be affected by the waxing and waning of the moon, and so are our feminine cycles.
Symbolic Meaning #7. Cyclical
In many ways, water is symbolic of the cyclical nature of life. As mentioned above, water is deeply linked to the feminine cycles such as menstruation and fertility.
There are other natural cycles, such as growth, decomposition, and life-death-life cycles.
Water can be parallel to many of the natural cycles and often plays a fundamental role in the processes that form these cycles.
Water goes through different states and is cycled through the ecosystem in various states.
For example, water evaporates to form clouds, which fall as rain to the earth, and this water then refills water bodies and hydrates the land, plants, and our bodies.
We excrete substances that contain water, and this liquid eventually makes its way back into water bodies and the land to be cycled through the environment as needed.
The cycle of our life as a whole each day is deeply connected to the cycle of water.
Symbolic Meaning #8. Emotional
Another aspect of water that we can explore as a symbolic meaning is the emotional nature of water.
We have discussed how water is adaptable, and this can mean that water will go with the flow of external stimuli, which can at times manifest as intensity and have an emotional energy.
The most simple example to explain this is that of a stormy ocean.
Water that is flowing with the strong energy of the winds, tides, and currents; water that is directed to lift and crash intensely guided by the landforms and elements.
Just looking at a stormy ocean or a gently meandering river can be emotionally provocative, we feel this energy when we approach these water bodies.
This emotional nature of water goes even deeper, and once again the fascinating research of Dr. Masaru Emoto (which we will discuss under the next heading ) reiterates that water can be symbolic of emotion, this research showed how the very structure of water is patterned by the emotions and experiences that the water is surrounded by.
Water can have a deeply emotional impact on us and so do we on water.
Symbolic Meaning #9. Unconscious or Subconscious
The last symbolic aspect that we shall delve into is water as a symbol for the subconscious.
The subconscious is also sometimes referred to as the unconscious and can be regarded as the parts of our mind that we are not fully aware of but have a huge influence on our experience.
According to Jungian theory, which explored deeply the elements of our experience such as the subconscious mind, water is an accurate symbol for the subconscious mind.
The vastness of water as well as the fact that when we encounter water, there is so much more than what meets the eye
A calm ocean that has an entire underwater world beneath the surface. A water droplet that contains molecular geometric patterns.
There is so much more to us and our experience than our mind is fully conscious of.
Seeing the Hidden Symbolism of Water
As I referred to this study when discussing water as a symbol for both power and emotion, within this section of the article we will explore a little more on this fascinating project that researched water with a deep understanding of energy, emotions, and spirituality.
This emotional and powerful aspect of water has been a lifelong research project led by a Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto and he details his findings in his book entitled The Hidden Messages In Water.
He documents his experimental processes and photographs that show the crystalline structures of water.
His findings demonstrated how water responds to thoughts, emotions, environmental conditions, and even music.
It can be observed from his fascinating images that the structure of water changes drastically due to various conditions.
It was found that positive emotions, thoughts, harmonic music, and environments lead to water forming visually pleasing and even sacred geometric structures while negative projections and environments form warped structures.
If you have an interest in the details of these studies, you can read the book or watch the movie Messages From Water.
Water Symbolic Meaning in a Dream
The symbolism of water in a dream can have various meanings depending on the specifics of how water presents itself in our dreams.
We can refer to the general symbolic meaning of water discussed in the main section of this article to help us intuitively interpret our dreams.
Water can be symbolic of adaptability, non-resistance, power, fertility, feminine energy, emotion, cleansing, and the subconscious aspect of life.
According to psychoanalysts, Carl Jung the dream symbol of large bodies of water can be interpreted as the subconscious aspect of the experience.
Seeing water in a dream could be a reminder for us to pay some special attention to the essential elements of life as well as seemingly subtle subconscious patterns, influences, or perspectives.
Experiencing rain in a dream could symbolize fertility, newness, and growth in some aspect of your life.
According to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, water in a dream can symbolize our unconscious fears and desires.
Noticing the emotional temperament of water in your dream can also help you to decipher meaning from your dream.
Is the water calm or turbulent, Is it clear? or dark and deep?
Seeing water in your dream can also be a symbol of purification or cleansing in some way.
Waters Symbolic Meaning in the Bible and Ancient Cultures
Water has been absolutely necessary and revered for as long as humans have existed. These are the symbolic meanings of water in some of the oldest cultures on earth:
- Water in the bible is used to describe creation, destruction, regeneration, and purification.
- In Buddhist philosophy, water is an element of life and a “being like water” is a metaphor for a vital state of being.
- In Hinduism water is a symbol of life and purity.
- In Greek mythology water represents power.
- In Egyptian mythology, water represents life and fertility.
While writing this article I came across a quote by the artist Delta Venus that resonated with this deeper understanding of water that we have contemplated within this article.
“We are water. Like water, consciousness takes the shape of its container. Like water, consciousness remembers all it experiences. Like water, consciousness never ends, it simply transforms”
We encounter water multiple times each day, and contemplating the hidden symbolism within this element can allow us to be more present to the essential life force within this natural element.
Water symbolizes power, fertility and creation, adaptability, non-resistance, emotion, cycles, and feminine energy.
All these symbolic meanings of water can remind us of these truths of our higher or fully embodied and embraced nature.
Thank you, I hope you enjoyed learning about the amazing meanings of water symbolism. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts as we'd love to know.
Yasmin is a freelance creative, working through the mediums of fine art and writing. She loves deeply exploring themes related to the natural world, the metaphysical world, concepts and embodiments of spirituality as well as esoteric contemplations. An overview of some of her work can be viewed at https://www.instagram.com/faeiirie/