water

Water linked traditions in the Early World

Life depends on water, but for thousands of years, it’s also played a role in many religions. The earliest known example of this is the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro in the Indus Valley civilisation in Northern India and Pakistan. Nothing is known about the religion of these people but this impressive structure, which dates to the 3rd-millennium b.c.e, is believed to have been used for purification rituals. The Vedic religion, which arose in north-west India,  also used water for purification and as it’s believed to have succeeded the Indus Valley culture, it may have adopted this custom from them. The Vedic religion, in turn, was an influence on the Hindu religion whose first phase dates to that era. Purification with water is an import tradition in Hinduism. There are tanks at every large Hindu temple, and it’s customary for followers to bathe in sacred rivers.

Purification with water is an orthodox Jewish ritual that’s performed in a pool of water called a mikvah. Isreali archaeologists recently discovered well-preserved remains of a number of ritual baths near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem which would probably have been used by Jewish pilgrims before they entered the Temple.  Holy water,  sanctified by a priest, is used in Christian baptism rituals and legend has it that Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist  Water is also used for purification in Shinto, Taoism, and Buddhism and  Druids celebrated their secret rituals near lakes on the festival of Samhain. There are numerous sacred lakes around the world and votive offerings have been found in them and in rivers and bogs. In Celtic Europe, there were many sacred springs but they later became Christianised There are also thousands of sacred wells in the British Isles whose water was thought and to cure ailments. In Central America, the Maya purified themselves in a water temple, and the Aztecs bathed regularly

Prince Bladud, the ninth king of the Britons, was reputedly cured of leprosy after bathing in Bath’s hot muddy waters and he was so thankful that he founded the city of Bath. It was customary for the Romans to bathe in public baths and after they colonised England, they built a great temple near the city’s  rich mineral rich spring which supplies the Roman Baths It was dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva who reputedly had healing powers.

Inti Raymi was a nine-day New Year festival in Peru which was celebrated on the June solstice (winter in that part of the world) and colourful New Year ceremonies took place in  Cuzco, and elsewhere in the empire. The Incas associated Lake Titicaca with the Creation and Titicaca Island was thought to be the place where Viracocha created the world. On Inti Raymi, priests on the island conducted rituals around a sacred plaza and purified themselves in water at the Fountain of the Incas. Elsewhere in the country, the gates of dams were opened to allow water to flush through the valley to cleanse the land in preparation for the coming year.

Water was associated with the Creation in several early religions, and also in the Bible. ( Gen. 1:1-2:3) , and the tradition of the Primeval Land which emerged from the Primeval Sea was popular in the Old and New Worlds.The First Land was often represented in the form of a  stone, or earth, structure.  Examples of this are the  Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in  Teotihuacan in Mexico, the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, Silbury Hill, in England,  Creek Mound in West Virginia, U.S.A, and the Akapana in Bolivia in South America.

Several  Old and New World peoples had legends of a series of past ages each of which ended in watery destruction after its people became evil. Following the upheaval, the next age commenced and life started all over again. Although we don’t know who the evil people of the previous age were, what appears to have happened was enacted in an annual, allegorical, Egyptian play. The Egyptian temple was the place of creation, the Primeval Mound, and its sacred lake represented the Primeval Sea. Edfu was one of the places where the battle between Seth and Horus, reputedly occurred and the event was enacted on Edfu’s  sacred lake. Battles with clubs were fought on this lake between these forces of light and darkness. According to the Hindu calendar, the present era began in 3,102 b.c.e  around which time there’s evidence of flooding, and climate change, in many parts of the world. This appears to be the Great Flood that’s mentioned in hundreds of early deluge legends and which ‘cleansed the world’ by drowning the evil people of the previous era. Did this catastrophe, I wonder, influence the custom of purification with water in the present era?

 

Bibliography

Bridget and Raymond Alchin.The Rise of Civilisation in India and Pakistan.Press Syndicate

of University of Cambridge.1982

Adolph Bandelier. The Islands of Titicca and Koati.The HispanicSociety of America.1910

Berrin & Pasztory Teotihuacan.Thames & Hudson..1994

James Bonwick.Irish Druids and Old Irish Religion.Dorset Press 1986

Colonel  A Braghine. The Shadow of Atlantis, The Aquarain Press

Burr Cartwright Brundage. The Fifth Sun.University of Texas Press.1979

E.A,Wallis Budge. The Gods of the Egyptians,.Dover Publications.1969

R.T.Rundle Clark. Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt.Thames & Hudson 1959

Abbe J..Dubois.Hindu Manners and Customs. Clarendon Press.1936

Leonard Farra The Pleiades Legacy (The Stone Age)Blurb 2010

“”                The Pleiades Legacy (The New World)  “      “

“                The Pleiades Legacy (The Old World)    “      “

Peter Frost. Exploring Cuzco. Bradt Enterprises. 1984

Seigfried Huber. The Realm of the Incas.Robert Hale. 1959

Donald A Mackenzie. Myths of Pre-Columbian America. The Gresham Publishing  Company

“                   Egyptian Myth and Legend                   “                 “

W.H.Prescott. History of the Conquest of Peru.J.M.Dent and Sons. 1908

Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees.Celtic Heritage.Thames  & Hudson. 1978

Frank Waters Book of the Hopi. .Penguin Books. 1978

James S.Westerman, The Meaning of Machu Picchu.Westridge Publishing Inc. 1998

Alan L.Kolata. The Tiwanaku. Blackwell Publishers. 1993

Jacques Soustelle. Daily Life of the Aztecs.Phoenix Press. 1955

Sir Mortmer Wheeler.The Indus Civilization.Book Club Associates.1976

 

by Leonard Farra author of the Pleiades Legacy series.

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