A Kyoto garden, JapanIn Japan, the act of sanctifying with water is called ‘misogi’.
This practice traces its origin to a Japanese tale about a primordial god who cleansed himself of worldly ‘tarnishing’ with water. It is based on the belief that water rids us of earthly impurities and is the reason we see low, stone water basins in Japanese gardens.
It is also why Japanese people would traditionally sprinkle water at the gate of a home in the morning and evening.
The Japanese people are not alone in their tradition of using water to bless people and places.
Many great religions value ‘sanctified’ water. Catholicism sees water that has been blessed as a symbol of God’s grace and as a “wellspring of all holiness...”
Thai Buddhists make ‘lustral’ water and believe that they will be blessed if they drink it or have it sprinkled on their head.
At their new year, the Thai people scent bowls of water with flower petals, and sprinkle these sacred waters to cool, cleanse and bless.
Photo: Sriwittayapaknam School
A vital element of a Thai ceremonies is pouring lustral water over the hands of a revered teacher or a newlywed couple. Above, in a ceremony called tam hua, younger people pay respects to their elders, bringing flower-scented water to bathe the hands of parents and teachers.
Indian Sikhs also prepare ‘amrit’, or holy water, for use in their baptismal ceremonies. And Muslims make a pilgrimage to the well of Zam Zam in Mecca for its holy water.
With reverence for water we can include its magic in a garden. Water encourages us to be still. It replenishes us. It sparkles and dances.
Water is indeed magical....include it in any garden you make!
"Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it.
Love every leaf, every ray of God's light.
Love the animals, love the plants, love everything.
If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. "
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky