Since ancient times, water has been the source of deep, spiritual meanings in traditional gardens. Water was seen as a feminine symbol – life giving, fertile, changing and mysterious. References to Mother Rain, the Sacred Well, mermaids and nymphs allude to the feminine nature of water.
Christian symbols of water include “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” and “a living water fountain”. Medieval monastaries often included a fountain or a wellhead at the centre of the cloister garden.
Ancient Persian gardens were dependent on water for their very existence in the desert environment. The Persian garden represented Paradise on Earth, and featured four water channels leading to a central basin. Later Islamic gardens followed this design and included fountains, pools and channels. According to the Quran “every living thing is made of water” and refers to water as symbolic of life, purification and sustainability.
Zen Buddhist gardens use water to represent how the universe changes but always stays the same. Correct placement of streams are believed to carry away evil. Water may be included as a reflection pond in a large Zen garden, or as a stone basin in an enclosed courtyard garden. Water is often represented by raked sand or a rock cascade in a “dry garden”.
You can include water in your own healing garden in a number of ways:
Even in a small healing garden you can include a bowl of water to use as a reflecting pool. Below is an image of a glazed pot of clear water in my healing garden. The clouds are reflected among the leaves of the water plant.
Reflection pool in my healing garden
Tiny, secret pools of water can be found in all kinds of places in your healing garden if you take the time to look: