Year 2 - n.2 - May 2002


The Symbolism of Water  (the first part)


One of the most suggestive aspects of the crib is the water represented by a river or by a stream, whether it is made by silver foil, by flocks of cottonwool, or by making flow real water with some ingenious devices.  The poetry of the river is so suggestive nobody would build a crib without its stream. It is also important to say that in the popular crib the realistic element is always joined to the archetypic power of the symbol. For this reason it is interesting to stop our attention, for a little time, on the symbolism of water that, in our daily life, involves some of our easier acts. For example, when we say that  we "drink a toast to a promotion", we use a sentence that has got, in an informal way, the same symbolic content of the blessing ritual with which the priest purifies people of their sins or blesses the objects to save them from the profane purpose and keeps them for the divine service.



The symbolic meaning is immediately comprehensible in these acts because of the move of the material events on the spiritual level by a mental process that is analogy; since water is the means that removes the material spots that deface beauty and exterior decorum, the blessed water has got the same effect on the spiritual level.

But it is not sufficient to say that the symbols are one of the most interesting and complex expressions of the spirit that,  using them,  shows itselfs in the dreams, in the religion and in the art.  Moreover, it is important to remember that the simbols language is marked by a fundamental ambiguity. For this reason they, in the language of the conversational reason, can have a posite valence and a negative valence, but never an only (univocal) meaning: a symbol is always a set of significations that are often in contrast among them. Now, since water is a very important element  for man, it is one of the most complex and reachest symbols.       

Italo Sarcone