The “water element” – as landscape designers call it – has long been an essential component of gardens. A pond or fountain, even a birdbath, provide cool relief. In Japanese gardens, the delicate trickle of water, with birdsong, bee buzz, the rustling of leaves, offers a gentle and soothing orchestra.

Among its many other benefits, water attracts animals. If, like me, you garden in order to create a wildlife (even citified wildlife) habitat where human habitation has destroyed it, then water is vital for birds, insects and mammals.

Water, like the moon, is yin in the ancient Chinese tradition, contrasted with Earth, yang. Water is simultaneously strong and yielding, feminine, inviting, and stately. In the Hindu Vedas, water and the moon are soma, sleep, dream.

Grapevines, silver lace, woodbine, iris, day lilies … the area around my pond is my temenos, my sacred grove, where I sit under the cool leaves every summer morning. The pond refracts myths, resonates with primordial events, the beginning of time, perhaps, the birth of fertility. Aphrodite rises from water. The water lilies (erroneously labeled lotuses by early Egyptologists) are the Flower of Isis. Lakshmi — Hindu goddess of love, luck, and wealth, of agriculture and fellowship with the land – rose from an actual lotus flower. They are ladies of the lakes, the seas, the rivers, where sooner or later, all things merge.

lakshmi

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