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Healing Ourselves through Healing Our Watersheds

Honoring the water that nourishes the people has been a pan-cultural practice throughout humanity’s brief tenancy on Earth.

At some point in time your ancestors knew the importance of the sea, the braided rivers, the stream-strewn lowlands, & the bubbling springs. Whatever form these watersheds took it was known, inherently, that the health of the water is directly related to the health of the people.

Even if this is something we still understand logically, it something we’ve forgotten (at least in the highly modernized Western world) on a deeper level. We’ve put up barriers, literally & metaphorically, against nature. We’ve built dams on almost every free-flowing river in America, brought in invasive species, extirpated necessary predators, allowed grazing on fragile banks, dumped trash, poured pollutants, permitted dangerous mining, & began to find it silly to treat water as a sacred being.

All the while we’ve built metaphorical dams in our own hearts, averting our gaze from these harsh realities, finding sweet distractions in the crystalline devices linked to the internet & consuming the things that are directly linked to hurting our world.

This, however doesn’t change the fact that we are deeply, irrevocably tied to well being of our planet. To our watersheds.

For over 4 billion years the cells that weave your body into form have oriented themselves to the rhythms of this planet.

For over 4 billion years the cells that weave your body into form have oriented themselves to the rhythms of this planet. To her magnetism, to the cycles of the sun, to the minerals & life-giving waters. Our remote ancestors having been born in the sea, our bodies to this day, are bodies of water. Water mediates every function of the human body: connecting all of your cells, transferring all nutrients, & transmitting every signal within you.

Next time you take a sip of water, do so slowly. Allow your mind to follow it’s journey through the body for as long as you are able. Within five minutes, that water will become your bloodstream. Most diseases on the planet are due to a lack of access to clean, healthy water.

It is argued by findings in modern hydrobiology that all diseases are likely to be linked, one way or another, to the water within our bodies. Even in the United States, a country in which most people feel as though the water they have access to is safe, are experiencing exponential increases in disease, physical & mental health, as well as spiritual health. This is because the water they are drinking is severely treated & no longer connected to planets hydrological cycle.

Through anthropologic manipulation, the water is no longer able to reach its molecular structural capacity & is no longer imprinted by the wild nature around it, which creates the conditions for water to have a proper isotopic composition, mineral profile, crystallinity, etcetera. The lack of these properties is showing up in the health of human populations & yet, it is not mainstream knowledge. Where do we get such healthy, life supporting water?

In springs & rivers, in streams & aquifers but, of course, these places are in need of healing.

It is time we remember the value of a river in its natural state & advocate on their behalf.

It is time we remember the value of a river in its natural state & advocate on their behalf. Of course, their value doesn’t only lie in the potential health benefits of humans, it is imperative for the health of the ecology. Every living relies on water, & we rely on the wellness of all living things. Earth is an intricate & vastly complicated living life-support system, much more advanced than anything humans have been able to create. With a swiftly changing climate we need to take every step we can to heal the systems that keep the greater system going. We are already experiencing the effects of our actions. In the west multi-decadal droughts & raging wild fires have become the norm.

Water is continuing to be taken further & further from the western cities consuming it without truly addressing its overuse during this crowded period of history. Most people no longer fully realize that they are not separate from the ecological & hydrological cycles of their landscapes. They are a part of it. You are a part of it. We need to remember this & act accordingly.

Climate change & world health are prodigious issues. It can feel hopeless when there is a daily cacophony of news stories assaulting our ear drums & meeting our eyes through social media outlets. These problems are massive, where do we even begin? Locally. With the health of our communities, our watersheds, our ecological systems. Through healing our watersheds we can heal ourselves. Imagine what it would be like if every community on Earth decided to put the health of their local watersheds as a top priority. Imagine what it would be like if people remembered, in their hearts, in their bones, in the deep belly of their cores, that they were an extension of the living landscape. How might things be different if everyone felt like they belonged to the land, rather than utterly separated from it?

Through the simple acts of breathing & drinking local wild water, you are in deep connection to the land that holds you.

Through the simple acts of breathing & drinking local wild water, you are in deep connection to the land that holds you. Start by visiting your local water sources. Notice the ways in which this water moves, the way it holds its own space, the way it impacts that which surrounds it. Notice how the water feels. Is it cool? Or warm? Hot or icy? If it's safe observe its taste. Is it refreshing? Earthy? Salty, perhaps?

What colors bounce off her surface to meet your eyes , & how do they shift depending on the time of day, the weather, the season? What smells are present here?

Be aware of what is carried by the water—small bits of plant or animal, particles of soil or sand, fish & other aquatic creatures, some too small to be seen by human eyes. Look around, what beings rely on this water, are they all beneath her surface?

Kelp forests, Gilled creatures, or are there land dwellers hugging her shores-cattails, mangroves, weeping willows, thirsty four-leggeds, are there any creatures of the air- humming bees, a bathing osprey, notice who is there……

Find your local springs. If they’re not polluted, drink from them. Weave your blood back into the ecology of the place you live in. Become involved with your local watershed associations, volunteer with local conservation groups working on watershed restoration. Get to know the hydrological systems surrounding you so that you may feel reverence for them once again. If each one of us can rekindle our relationship to the Earth, we will restore it.

We will feel an inherent responsibility to do so.

As Isabel Friend, president of the American Water Trust, once said “What we do to our waters we do to ourselves. We are watersheds within watersheds.” Remember this, each morning, as you take your very first sip of water. Carry this knowing around with you as you move through your day. Healing our watersheds will heal our world.

Healing our watersheds will heal our world.

If this post has touched something within you & you’d like to dive deeper I recommend taking Isabel Friends “Allying with Water” course at . Go to to discover where your closest spring is, & visit!

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