By Amber C. Snider
Learn how to respectfully petition water spirits, make moon water, and perform beach rituals.
The four elements are present in all of us: earth in our bones, air in our lungs, fire in our spirits, and water that continuously moves through our blood. Many of us are especially attracted to that last element: the call of the ocean is contained within us, the shoreline beckons us, and the sound of rain, waves, and streams is akin to holy music. We seek out water every day, whether it’s a cup of tap water to nourish our physical bodies or sinking into a daily ritual bath. And it’s no surprise that we’re so drawn to the power of water, since the human body is made of 60% of the stuff.
Like fire, water has the power to both cleanse and destroy. Think of how salt water from the ocean can heal wounds and also wipe out entire coastal towns. It’s an element that deserves the highest respect, for we are no match for the fertile, engulfing power of the ocean. For witches and spiritual practitioners, performing spells and rituals by the seaside is also important: It brings us closer to our spiritual roots, grants us interior reprieve and rest, and recenters us.
Here are ways you can work with the power of water in your rituals:
No two streams are alike
Each body of water, whether it’s the ocean, a river, cenote, or mountain stream, has a different energy and ‘presence’. For sensitive folks, this change in essence is palpable and every water source very much alive. Sit at the water’s edge and listen. Pray for insight to a question or problem and then wait for your answer. Like a slow breeze, the answer may come in a hushed whisper or an internal “knowing.”
Respect your surroundings
It’s good to get to know the energies of a place before you petition the spirits there, but the main common thread between them all is respect. If you bring things to the water, be sure to take it back with you. I personally do not believe in leaving ritual offerings at water sites – if it didn’t come from the ocean/river, etc. (and you brought it with you), take it back with you when you leave. It’s a quick way to anger the spirits of the land when you leave trash and/or foreign objects in their home.
Tip from Enchantments’ witch Carmen
“When making offerings to water deities, be aware of the signs that they send you. If your offering is not enough or it is not the right time, you may feel anxiety or discomfort while you set up or before you leave. Honor your intuition and reset your intentions, or come back at a later time when you feel compelled to continue. Remember, to leave these sacred spaces just as you found them. Make sure there are no plastics or non-biodegradable items in your offering. Clean up and take your trash with you.”
Get to know the Goddesses associated with water
...and honor them accordingly (especially before working with them). Yemaya, the Great Ocean Mother and a powerful orisha, is both nurturing, protective, healing, and fierce. (Read more about her here). You can honor her by lighting blue and white candles, building an altar with cowrie shells, watermelon, and white flowers. You can also honor her by simply picking up trash at the beach whenever you see it. Venus, the Goddess of Love and Fertility, was “conceived” in the ocean, so the water’s edge is a great place to petition her for love. You can light green or pink candles to honor her, carry white roses with you (or use them in a bath) with offerings of copper. But again, as with all water rituals, I highly recommend you take all your ritual supplies with you when you leave.
Ancient power of Cenotes
Cenotes, primarily found in the Yucatan region in modern day Mexico, are highly charged spiritual sites dating back to the Ancient Mayans. Locals say that each cenote is “guarded” by a protective spirit, as well as aluxes (playful yet mischievous guardian spirits at the cenote’s entrance). With over 7,000 present in Yucatan, cenotes have become popular swimming sites for tourists – but don’t let that fool you into thinking that dulls their spiritual power in any way. Most cenotes were the site of Mayan rituals (including human sacrifice), so it’s extremely important for folks to be respectful when visiting.
I also recommend doing a “light meditation” (envision a powerful white light around you with an outlining blue edge) when entering the cenote water or cave in order to protect your spirit, especially because not all the entities and spirits who live there are necessarily “friendly.”
Making Moon Water
Water and the moon are inextricably linked. Just think of the moon’s power on the tide – of course it has an effect on the human body. You can harness the power of the moon in many ways, but one practical way is to create moon water. Simply take spring water and put it into a clean mason jar to “charge” under the full moon for up to three nights. Speak to the water, say a prayer, or recite a specific intention over it. You can think of it as “collecting” positive energetic power to enhance your spellwork over the month. Add cupfuls at a time to your bath water over the month or drink it with intention. Some full moons are more chaotic than others, so be sure to check the influence of the planets before you make your moon water to ensure the energies you are harnessing are conducive to what you want manifest in your life.
Ritual baths are another practical way to work your water magick. Try adding sea salt baths (or try these with blended essential oils and herbs), essential oils (lavender for peace and protection, rose for love, musk for sensuality, citrus for invigoration, or any intention-based oil), herbs or flowers, and even teas to your baths. Keep your bath rituals technology-free (unless you’re playing music, then keep the phone on airplane mode) and try to be as ‘present’ as possible in the water. As you dunk your head under, ask for purification and imagine any spiritual impurities and negative energies washing away from you. As you watch the water drain from the tub, visualize a pure, radiant light around you – cleansing you entirely. One tip is to add your herbs to a cheesecloth sachet or tea bag for easy clean up.
Collect a few shells and natural ornaments that you find at the water’s edge. Place them in front of you and light a small white candle. If you brought offerings with you, place them alongside the candle. Create a sacred circle by calling upon the elements (earth, wind, fire, water), your ancestors, or spirits for protection and draw a circle around you in the sand. Sit in the space you’ve created and write out a petition or spell on a very small piece of paper. Meditate on the intention of the spell, try to envision its positive effects in your life and others around you. When you’re ready, burn the paper and say “So mote it be” or “Amen.” Collect everything you brought with you (but leave the natural shells and ornaments) and don’t look back. Continue to light the candle at home over the next few days until it’s completely burned out. Pay attention to the sign over the next few weeks. Once your prayer or spell has been answered, I always recommend following it up with a separate gratitude ritual to give thanks for the new blessings.
Want more stories on water magick? Check out this amazing book from Weiser or this story on how to perform a bath ritual.