Water as a subject became interesting to me only as a consequence of my earlier interest in the ideas of Nikola Tesla, John Keely, and Walter Russell, among others. Not only was their work based on notions of sympathy, connectivity, and resonance, it reflected an appreciation for the hidden, subtle levels of the natural order that give rise to the world we see. Perhaps equally important, their ideas emphasized the balance at work in nature—the inherent reciprocity of the male and the female, the expansive and the compressive, the decaying and the growing.
The science that might have emerged from this work would have possessed an appreciation for the order-generating, feminine principle in the natural world—a force more elusive than the masculine half of the coin, which manifested itself most obviously as the explosive, heat-releasing processes at the core of all the great machinery of the Industrial Revolution. This emphasis on the masculine reached its culmination in the destructive power of the atom bomb, in which atoms themselves were ripped apart to release tremendous quantities stored energy. The great advances of twentieth century physics thus eclipsed the possibility of a gentler path that was also available to humanity at the time.
My curiosity led me eventually to the discovery of Viktor Schauberger’s ideas. Viktor was known as “The Water Wizard” because his ideas about water enabled him to construct specially-shaped log flumes that could transport heavy timber out of the Austrian mountains in ways that conventional flumes could not, and which avoided the material losses that occurred when heavy timber sank into rivers and formed intractable “log jams.” My first, and primary, exposure to Viktor’s ideas came from reading Callum Coats’ four-part Eco-Technology series, a compilation of translations of Viktor’s original writings, papers and correspondence, organized into thematic volumes. The first was on water, the second on the subtle structures of the natural world, the third on agriculture, and the fourth on energy—(the sort of energy we use to power homes and automobiles and factories).
Viktor’s work was fascinating to me for many reasons. One is that it had simply been ignored, despite having achieved a number of noteworthy outcomes, and the second is that it felt essential to helping humanity develop a sustainable footprint on this planet. The latter was a primary focus for Viktor, who bemoaned time and again the long-term environmental degradation he felt certain would arise from our blindness to the subtle temperature dynamics at work in the natural world. Indeed, in the 1930’s, though global warming was on the distant horizon even as a concept, he spoke and wrote frequently about the ways in which so-called modern thinking failed to grasp the subtle temperature dynamics at work in soil and stream, on which the maintenance of ecological health depends. We were killing our water, our forests, and our soil, he said, because of management practices rooted in a mindset that could not fathom the finely-tuned, generative processes at work in Nature.
This mindset—my words, not Viktor’s—is the arrogance of a predominately male materialism, a system of thought I would describe as being content with explanations derived only from what is measurable at the time, and sorely lacking in a heart connection with the natural world. It is abstract and logical only, and excludes the intuitive and heart-centered modes of comprehension. Without respect for the possibility that nature is far richer in composition than the mechanisms of which their minds could conceive, and with profound satisfaction for the brutish mechanical assemblages they wrought, this way of thinking ran roughshod over the delicate web of relationships that underwrite the natural world. This is the mindset of the Titanic, the nuclear bomb, the traffic jam, Love Canal, the soil-killing programs of synthetic fertilization, and other instruments of so-called modern-thinking too numerous to name.
The general erosion of the world’s physical fabric, manifest today in so many ways and mistakenly abridged into the singular concept of “global warming”, is precisely the future against which Schauberger railed. The environmental degradation we’ve witnessed over the past century or two is the inevitable outcome of a system of thought that excludes the generative, feminine half of Nature’s fundamental processes from its purview, and can think only in squares and lines about a world that moves in circles and spirals.
One might say that Viktor was “right” merely on the forecasts he gave, which sadly have come to be, but when I discovered his writing I wanted to know if he was also correct about the nature of water itself. This led me on the journey of discovery I aim to recount in this series of posts, which has made it painfully obvious to me that Viktor Schauberger was absolutely correct in his assessment. It has shown me not only that water, and life itself, are much different than we have conceived them to be, but also that the domineering mindset on which the advances of the last century were based is deeply entrenched in our society. It is not simply a question of our science, but of how all of us think and comprehend our relationships to the world around us.
Where do we even start in developing a more feminine science? What does that even mean? I think it begins with the acknowledgment that wholeness is a fundamental property or condition of the natural world. I further think it means an emphasis on science that acknowledges the value of all life, that acknowledges the wisdom inherent in the natural order, that values qualities as well as quantities, and that places an emphasis on answering questions that would increase our ability to nurture the planet and one another. Such a science would value a deeper understanding of what Nature is being, and how it is to be supported, over predictive power, and would acknowledge that in a universe composed only of life, there is uniqueness at every turn.
Water, I’d say, is a great place to begin, as I hope to show.