In every culture, water and spirituality interpenetrate one another. In this brief excursion, a variety of practices and belief systems reveal this intimate connection, whether in literature, poetry, music, art, nature, or in formal indigenous and world religious traditions. In reality, the salty seas comprise 97% of the water on earth with 2% of fresh water locked in ice and permafrost. That leaves under 1% for the nourishment of humans, animals, plants, and the earth’s surface; 1% of fresh water today—hit by climate change, pollution from mines, runoff from agriculture, and human waste; scarce in many lands; often wasted and clogged with deadly chemicals. In addition, the seas are hurt from acidification and warming due to climate change.
Political, economic, technical, and even technological responses help resolve some of these issues. However, this essay argues that only a more radical response can resolve our crises, precisely by recovering the spiritual dimensions of water, a water spirituality in our personal lives as well as in a spirituality for communities. The response, a new water spirituality, can be found not only in world religions, but in legends, poetry, stories, ancient and contemporary practices around the world, and in unconscious and emotional links with water.