Next up in this series about exploring the elements as altars is Water! If you missed the previous two – here’s Air and here’s Fire.
The element of water has many forms and abilities. Water makes life possible and causes it to grow. We can have water contained within a bowl, chalice, or cauldron, experience it’s movement in rivers and oceans, be rinsed by the rain, and shrouded by the fog. It makes solutions, purifies, submerges, hydrates, and suspends.
Water as an altar allows for many magical options and applications. Through it we can make brews and teas, infusions and tinctures, baths and washes – all things that can aid in offerings and cause transformation. We can bless a beverage and pour it onto the ground, or take it into our own bodies. By freezing, we can slow down a process, suspend it time, or by heating we can make it evaporate and dispense out into the world. We can give offerings to the spirits of oceans and streams, to take within their currents. We can use the salt of the sea to erode away problems.
If you are local to a pond, steam, lake, river, or ocean, then you can conduct your rite there at its edge. Small natural parcels, libations, and other biodegradable offerings* can be set on the current, tossed into the waves, poured forth, or submerged – with the aid of natural weights like stones or shells if necessary (you can write or inscribe on the stones/shells themselves as well.)If you’re not local to a body of water, then you can use a cup or cauldron (depending on the size and scope of your offering) to do the work instead. Again, depending on the nature of what you’re doing, the leftover water may be drained into a sink, poured on the earth, added to a bath or wash, flushed down the toilet, or allowed to evaporate. If you don’t mind getting wet (and you have the time to wait for the weather to agree), you can perform workings in the rain as well. Just don’t get struck by lightning, hail, or flying debris if you choose a storm instead of a shower. (If you wonder why I have to put this warning here…trust me, people have tried.) Another possibility are puddles after a storm – potholes and other low-lying water captures can definitely make for some interesting magic.
Water Altar Chant
River, Rain, Stream & Ocean
Sacred Spirit, Ever-flowing
Change this offering in your way
Ancient waters, ever-knowing.
*CAUTION!! The most important thing to keep in mind with water as an altar is to not pollute living bodies of water – make sure whatever offering you give does not poison the water, contaminate the habitat, or is a danger to wildlife!
There’s a lot more information about working with water and other liquids that I wrote about extensively in The Witch’s Cauldron.
Want to read more about altars in Witchcraft? Check out The Witch’s Altar!