There has been much talk, much organizing and much action that honors and respects the spirit of water. Compared to the vitality and power of this fluid, the attention we pay to it and the efforts we go to in protecting it have not been enough. The spirit of water is, after all, most of us, most of the planet and most of every living cell on the Earth. In fact, water even exists within many of the rocks that we would not give a second look. The organizing principle of fluidity is lost on many, but for some, the bending of trees in the storm, the graceful movements of creatures in their dances of life and death and even with each of our breaths, contribute to cycles of renewal that are only possible, because of, as we all learned in grade school, the hydrologic cycle.
The roar of the waterfall and the gurgling of the brook are the call and purr of Mishibijiw. The throbbing heart of this being is alive in us and needs to be respected. Anyone who has spent time on, or in water knows that eventually, we all will give offerings to the lake, the river, the whitewater and the crashing wave. Even if the deepest water you ever experience is in a bathtub, you will be making sacrifices to and rely on the power of Underwater Panther. Yes, it can rejuvenate. We have all felt the refreshing feeling of a shower or bath. This power is undeniable, but anyone who has seen a body dredged up out of murky depths knows that the power must be respected. I have heard that a mere two tablespoons, in the wrong place can kill a human being, yet three days without this elixir of life can be the end of us as well. Honoring this being, this powerful creature, needs to become a greater part of all of our lives if our species is to survive.
Yesterday, I was reminded how flippantly many regard this essential being. One of my friends was saying that, in time, we should expect Arizona and New Mexico to construct massive pipelines to tap our Great Lakes to slake their thirst. Another friend mused that Wisconsin’s illustrious Governor, Tommy Thompson, said that we would “…sell them all the water they wanted, but first, we would mix it with malt and hops.”
There are still a handful of folks, even here in our “modern” state, who collect this life giving fluid from artesian wells and haul it great distances to make life possible, but virtually every single town, village and berg depend on the availability of fresh, clean water, close at hand and easily exploited. Without properly respecting water, there are growing threats and assaults to Mishibijiw, from industrial discharges to our vehicles, even when they are operating normally. Not to mention the millions of leaking transmissions, motors or cooling systems. From mining and hydraulic fracturing of geologic formations to radioactive contamination from the air and from cooling systems used by nuclear facilities. Today I am re-committing myself to the honoring of this being and ask that we all do the same.
Waterbearers will be the next prophets, the next spiritual leaders and the hope for our future here on Earth. Without this precious gift, clean and in abundance, our civilization will perish. I did not know the name of Underwater Panther until recently. My conscious mind had no word for my intimate friend, however I had given great and small alms to this Spirit throughout my life, and both revered and respected the power that resides in H2O. As much and often as I have been able, I have shared with others the essential relationship that I have had with this Spirit. I have shared my understanding of the need for all of us to become keepers of both the Earth and Water, not just for their sake, but for ours as well.
The ethical implications of ignoring the Spirit of Water are great, because when you start killing off, or destroying the life-giving elements of nature, you are not just nurturing a depravity of spirit within yourself, but within the greater human family. When one assaults Mother Earth or disrespects Underwater Panther, that long and supple tail can whip around and slap you with a ferocity that is unknown to most, considered by some to be far worse than the stinging whip and understood by a few to be a kiss from the angel of death. We are 70% water, the same as the planet’s surface and where it comes from and the quality of it in a substantial way makes us who we are. I am made up of Lake Michigan water, but we go to great pains to filter that water, hoping to protect ourselves from many of the adulterants that exist there. When I have felt the strongest, the healthiest and the most vital, we collected “live” water from a nearby artesian well. The honor and respect that we give, as well as the offerings to this great being are great. I only hope that the rest of humanity will come to know the importance and charm that can grace our lives when we develop a relationship with Mishibijiw. Honoring and respecting the power of underwater panther.