Apprentice to Water

The Flow of the River

We are now moving forward into the element of Water. From the safety of the Earth, we are going to immerse ourselves in the flow of the river. Water comes in many forms: rain, snow, ice, steam, rushing rapids and still pools; often fickle, turning from one form to another almost instantaneously. There is no point trying to stop the movement or stem the tide however, what we are learning on this journey is how to move with the current, become flexible and understand deep in our bodies that we can weather any storm if we just go with the flow.

To enter water is to enter another realm, and here we are going to become completely immersed. Whether you see this as a rebirth, baptism or wild-river swim, a transformation will definitely be taking place, which may not be apparent immediately. For millennia people have worshipped at wells and springs; throwing offerings, prayers and incantations into the waters, and this is no different. We will approach the river with reverence and humility, asking of it things that we may not yet be aware of. 

Another facet of this watery world is its capacity to mirror our intentions and throw them back to us a hundred-fold, as rays of light are magnified through water’s many prisms. We can look into the shadows and see our true selves and we can see flashes of silver fish around us and know that we too are blessed with the power of deep reflection.  

This is a chance to understand our true nature, for in this watery world where nothing is quite as it seems, we may see things that do not seem real, but as we become acclimatised to the ebb and flow, we start to understand that what we see out there is actually the same as what we would see if we looked inside us; for after all, aren’t we all made up of 75% water ourselves?

Many animals, both real and mythic live in the water: whales and dolphins, mermaids and nymphs, selkies and sharks, starfish and octopuses. In this journey we will be moving with them as we immerse ourselves in their fluid and changing world. We will be learning to swim with them, swim through a strong current, leap under surf and most importantly, like the fish who make the river their home, we will be learning to breathe underwater. 

The Salmon of Wisdom will guide you with the flow to the river-mouth where you can push out into the sea, a place where you can make new discoveries and seek the guidance of underwater animals and creatures, and when you are ready, the salmon will safely guide you back upstream to your landing place, strong and confident, powerful and determined, refreshed and enlivened.  

His intuition guides him forward and no matter what obstacle he encounters, he always tries his utmost to breach it. This drive and determination is something we can learn from and I invite you to enter into his world and keep close to his side, as he leaps and surges back to the place of his origin. 

Water holds within it the invitation to reflect upon and renew yourself; it offers you the power to let go and give in to the flow and the strength to overcome the force of the current, no matter how far off-course it may have taken you. Step into this underwater realm with me and give up yourself to its incredibly restorative forces. 

“Water” from Our Wild Guides by Louisa Archer

Entering the River

The journey starts as we are walking towards a river on a clear spring morning, with the curve of the new moon low in the sly and mist moving of the surface of the water. The water represents our own psyches and this visualisation will take us deeper and deeper until we find ourselves moving into the depths. Take your time to gather your courage and take a deep breath as we move from the upper world of our everyday lives into the otherworld with our animal guides …

Take some time to find a comfortable place and feel safe in your environment, so that you will not be disturbed or interrupted by anyone or anything. Close your eyes and become aware of the earth under your feet. She is always there for you whenever you need her. Feel the way she supports you and never lets you down. 

Slowly relax into your body and be aware of its aliveness, its presence and its connection to all of life. Really feel every pore and every cell in your body vibrating with its own energy and the energy of all of life around you. Take some time with this, there is no need to rush. 

Slowly start to move beyond your body into your surroundings by stretching out your mind’s eye like fingers into the environment, feeling into the space around you. 

You find yourself walking towards a large river very early one spring morning, there is a chill in the air and the sickle moon lies low on the horizon, you can see it clearly in the pale dawn sky. As you look over towards the river, you see mist gathering on its surface, rolling gently away from you. The river itself is large and flowing briskly along gathering pace as it flows out into the sea, you can smell the salt in the air and feel the gentle wind on your skin from the coast. Look around and take your time to absorb everything you see.

A heron crakes from the riverbank somewhere in front of you and you hear the plop of an otter diving back into the water from a large rock to your side. You feel the aliveness of everything around you. 

As you look around you notice a part of the river bank that gently slips into the water and you know that it is inviting you to enter. Move slowly towards this bank, greet it and thank it for showing you your way forward this beautiful spring morning. Take your time to move towards the bank and as you do you, see it coming towards you. Sit on the sand for a while looking into the river as it flows past. Take some time to feel the movement of water inside you too.

Look into the water, you can just see into its depths, there is weed gently wafting to and fro and you spot small fish darting around. 

Gather your reserves of courage and enter the water. Move slowly and step in one foot after the other, keep moving until the water is to your waist, the bank drops away steeply underneath your feet. Feel the cold creeping up over you, your legs feel somehow separate from the rest of your body. Look at the surface of the water as it moves past, there are eddies and dips in the water as it moves on towards the sea. The strength of the current around you is pulling you in. Take a deep breath, surrender and dive straight in knowing that the water is welcoming you. Feel the water engulf the whole of you body, revitalising every cell, exhilarating and fresh, it takes only a few moments to get over the shock of the cold. Move your arms and legs around to keep you pointing downstream. You are warmer now, you are able to swim easily and you can see perfectly. Open your eyes and look around you  

You have no fear as you are carried by the flow. When you need to take a breath, relax and feel oxygen coming in through every pore in your body, let it move inside you directly, you find you can breath easily underwater. Let go, breath easily and kick gently if you like, become the flow and move with it.  

You catch a glimpse of a large fish near to you, a flicker of silver reflecting the light from the surface, you stretch out your hand but it darts away. Follow it. You realise it is leading you on and playing around you, above and below, coming near and then darting further away. You feel such joy to be alive in this river, all your troubles have disappeared as you swim with the fish. 

Soon you realise that the water is becoming faster and suddenly the mouth of the river spits you out into a deeper and more open stretch and you realise it is the ocean, broad an expansive, waves are crashing overhead but you are underneath them, being rocked about steadily and safely. Push out into the deep green of the water, which flows onto a reef in front of you, there you can see the movement of seaweed, rising up like magical underwater castles all around. 

You know that there are creatures just beyond view and you want to meet them, you realise that they are waiting to show you their world. Push off and go to meet them.


When you are ready to return, start to move back towards the river; you are stronger now and you are able swim right up to its mouth and enter it against the flow. The fish comes to help you again and shows you the way back up the river. Swim with strong strokes against the flow, happy and full in your body, feeling fresh and alive. Follow the fish as he darts around you again. 

Find yourself by the bank and pull yourself up out of the water into the air, which you can feel warm on your skin, the moon has set and the sun is high in the sky, having dissolved the mist a long time before. The sun’s fresh warmth touches you and dries you quickly. Hear birds singing and know that everything is alive and busy around you. You realise that you are breathing through your lungs again; take three deep breaths. 

You feel stronger, more refreshed and have a new perspective on everything you see and feel around you. Lie on the bank and feel the warmth of the sand underneath you as your skin dries in the sun, smell the salt on your skin and feel it in your hair. Relax. You glimpse the heron flapping slowly overhead, making her way to the sea. You know you will take the experience you had in the water forward into your everyday life and never forget that it is always there to welcome you back again when you need to explore further. 

Say thank you to the salmon for guiding you, and to the animals and other beings you encountered on your swim, knowing that you will be back again soon. 

Upon your Return 

Drink and eat a little, walk outside or do something involving your hands; washing up, making the bed, writing in your journal etc. 

You can return to this meditation again and again; when you wake up in the morning and need to feel more alive or if you need a refresher during the day. Like the tides moving in and out on their daily and monthly cycle, guided by the moon, you can use this visualisation in tandem with those cycles, coming back to it every day, week or month to clear your perspective, as an aid to inner reflection, to become stronger in your resolve, to overcome any obstacles you may encounter and to revive and reimagine ongoing projects.

© Louisa Archer 2020

Go to the Earth, Air, or Fire Visualisation.