An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links
to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore,
Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.

Common Themes, East & West:

The Four Elements


Water crystal from the pure Sanbu-ichi Yusui spring in Japan
(From -- see below)
[Link updated 11 December 2004]

7 April 2001:  In 3 years of gathering and grokking links from all over the world, I've found many that are now personal favorites of mine.  Yet for simple, stunning significance, none compares with the work of Masaru Emoto on water.

Thus, I begin this page with four links on the astonishing sensitivity -- and vulnerability to emotion -- of water.  All are based on a remarkable Japanese/English book, The Message from Water by the aforementioned Masaru Emoto.  This first link is "Conscious Water: Power of Prayer Made Visible."

...Emoto has been conducting worldwide research on the effect of ideas, words, and music upon the molecules of water, and the descriptions below are taken from the book of his published results....

Here are some...effects that Emoto claims to have found in his research:

      Water from clear mountain springs and streams has beautifully formed crystalline structures, while the crystals of polluted or stagnant water are deformed and distorted.

      Distilled water exposed to classical music takes delicate, symmetrical crystalline shapes....

       ...When water samples are bombarded with heavy metal music or labeled with negative words, or when negative thoughts and emotions are focused intentionally upon them, the water does not form crystals at all and displays chaotic, fragmented structures.

      ...When water is treated with aromatic floral oils, the water crystals tend to mimic the shape of the original flower....

The author of the above webpage, S. Barber, concludes this engrossing, illustrated essay with the following thought-provoking words:
...Sometimes, when we cannot see the immediate results of our prayers and affirmations, we think that we have failed. But, as we learn through Masaru Emoto's amazing photographs, that thought of failure itself becomes represented in the physical objects that surround us. Now that we have seen this, perhaps we can begin to realize that even when immediate results are invisible to the unaided human eye, they are there. When we love our own bodies, they respond. When we send our love to the Earth, she responds....
[Updated hypertext 11 December 2004]:  This is another great site on The Message from Water by Masaru Emoto.  It offers a presentation of 20 stunning photos from Emoto's book (each can be clicked for very large versions).  I was struck by the exquisite beauty of a water crystal from Lourdes  (click on hypertext for direct links).   In contrast, there's a crystal taken from water exposed to Heavy Metal Music and another from a bottle with the following words pasted on it: you make me sick. I will kill you.   Finally water from a lake at Fujiwara Dam before offering a prayer, and then, amazingly, after prayers by a Buddhist monk.  Each image is carefully identified.
[Added 11 December 2004]:   In the nearly four years since Emoto's work appeared, much has happened.  For one thing, Emoto's work was featured in the film, What the 'Bleep' Do We Know?  This has led to his just-published Water Crystal Oracle.  He writes:
"I have had many requests from my readers and movie-goers who have seen What the Bleep Do We Know? to make posters and photos of the water crystals I have discovered. I have chosen instead to create an oracle of cards of my water crystal photographs so that my readers can use them for practical purposes in their lives." —Dr. Masaru Emoto
The link goes to his publisher of this oracular tool, Council Oak Books (the author's quote comes from the link to this deck at  There is now also a DVD, Water Crystals in Motion -- Messages From Water, showing the formation of crystals and how these moving forms are photographed by Emoto.  And a new edition of Emoto's book is now available at, where you'll also find many thoughtful reviews from readers.

Water crystal exposed to the words, "thank you," in Japanese
(See link directly below)
This is another page on Emoto's book, this time from the National Water Center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas (a non-profit organization with information on ordering the book [also see below] -- the site also offers a wide range of pages on various water issues).  Text is brief but lovely, so are the few images (see above for one of them):
...The water crystals also respond to human activity and to music. One can immediately see which water is more alive and life-enhancing, and which is not, thereby bridging the gap between subjective and objective measures....
This is Emoto's own site, explaining how he got the photos, why he did it, and much more.  There are only a few photos, but they're beautiful.  The site gives Emoto's conference schdeule around the world; you can also order the book from this site.   11 December 2004:  The site now offers a way to have your own water sample's crystalization photographed -- it's not cheap -- about $350 USD, but it's a fascinating option for those with the funds to do this.
[Added 11 December 2004]:  Not yet grokked.
[Added 11 December 2004, grokked 15 December 2004]:  This excellent little illustrated essay is "Water's Compassionate Connection with Us: The Research of Dr. Masaru Emoto" by Felicia Weiss, Ph.D.  She writes:
...By freezing water and taking pictures of the frozen water crystals that form, Dr. Emoto has been able to confirm his theory that while pure water becomes pure crystal, contaminated water may not crystallize at all or not as beautifully....
She discusses an experiment in which Dr. Emoto contacted 500 instructors in Japan and asked them "to send 'chi and soul' of love and the wish that the water should become clean" at a specific time on a specified day-- the water in question was a cupful of ordinary tapwater on Emoto's desk.  The results were dramatic -- the page shows before and after photos to demonstrate the difference. Weiss comments:
...This is an amazing finding since the 500 people were not even in the same room, nor even in the same city. This demonstrates that people's thoughts can be gathered no matter how far apart they are. It confirms the power of thought and prayer and further suggests that perhaps we can purify ordinary tap water through our conscious thought and words....
In a second experiment, which I find even more astonishing because of its fine-tuned implications, Emoto showed powerfully --
...that the intention of words chosen are also extremely important. In another experiment he took a sample of distilled water, which he divided into two glass bottles. He pasted a typed paper on one bottle with the Japanese words, "Do It". On the other bottle he pasted the Japanese words, "Let's Do It". He left these words overnight and in the morning he froze the water and took the pictures of the crystals....[T]he results were again quite dramatic [photos of both are on the webpage]. The more commanding words, "Do It", were clearly not responded to in as positive a way by the water as the more encouraging words, "Let's Do It". This suggests that we may wish to pay more attention to the way that we talk to each other and especially to our children....
[Added 1 July 2001]: I have now owned Emoto's book for several weeks and am awed whenever I explore its many images, the stunning ones as well as the disturbing ones.  The Arkansas site (mentioned above) gives this non-profit organization as the source for buying the book in the USA.  When I contacted it by phone and spoke with director, Dr. James DeMeo, he gave me the above link for a more direct connection (just scroll down its page for further info).  You can also reach him by email at or by telephone at: 541-552-0118 (Tel & Fax).  (FYI: one of DeMeo's books, Saharasia, which I also ordered because I remembered reading about it in Riane Eisler's Sacred Pleasure, I recommend as well.)

[Update 15 December 2004]:  This site only has a few copies of Emoto's original book on hand since they cannot compete with large discounters like  However, the above link will now take you to work by cutting-edge scientists who focus on other aspects of "living" water.  I haven't had time to grok the material yet but it looks quite intriguing.

Hareshaw Linn
Photo © by Ian Britton
(from -- see above) [link updated 11 December 2004]
This is a handsome site by Terri Windling called "Sacred Springs & Other Water Lore."  The perspective is cross-cultural, the long, rich essay is very well researched and written, and there are good references at the end.  (The site also includes a stunning image by Brian Froud of the "Lady of the Waters" -- don't miss it.)
...Today, with clean water piped directly into our homes and largely taken for granted, it takes a leap of imagination to consider the greater importance of water to those who fetched it daily from the riverside or village well. Deeply dependent on the local water source for their crops and animals, our ancestors had a natural reverence for those places where good, pure water emerged like magic from the depths of the earth. As a result, water has played a role in myth, folklore and sacred rites in cultures all around the globe....
This is "Holy Wells Web" by Katy Jordan.  The site has a number of interesting pages on worldwide wells and springs -- these are found in her "Wells on the Web" as well as the global bibliography pages (note: books are often available only in the language of the country involved); she explores the healing properties of many of these sites.  There are also several pages on holy wells of England as well as a page with two brief definitions of "holy well."
This is a dissertation abstract for Water: Folk belief, ritual and the East Slavic wondertale by Snejana J. Tempest (Yale University, 1993, 227 pp.).  It's tantalizingly brief but there's an e-mail address for Dr. Tempest for those seeking more information.
Water is undoubtedly one of the most ancient and universal of all symbols. Its presence in most marvelous events in the East Slavic wondertale is related to the early Slavs' worship of water and the role it played in all rites and magic practices.... [11 December 2004-- probably dead -- can't get through]
"The Holy Wells of Ireland" comes from Suzanne Barrett, the guide to Ireland for Visitors.  She begins with a good introductory essay (be sure to click on her hypertext) and then she provides a long list of wells and their locations.  At the end, she has a small group of links to Celtic lore.

Detail of "Water Dance"
Painting © by Mo Montserrat
[From The Sacred Feminine] [Updated link 15 December 2004]
Boston's WGBH produces a weekly radio program called Sound & Spirit.  In addition to books, the staff makes use of website resources in researching each program -- these links are then placed online afterwards.  The links are well annotated, often eclectic, always interesting.  This one is on a program called, simply, "Water" (Note: a few of these links are already on my page but most are not, so it's a great place to browse).  To give you a sense of the range, here is how they introduce it:
Sound & Spirit found these links as we did word-searches ["baptism", "mikveh", "bath", "water ritual", etc.] and research for the program, Water. We thought you might find them interesting too.
I did -- and hopefully you will too.  (Note: the page also has a link to the "Water" program itself -- you can listen to it online or order a transcript.) [Updated 4/7/01]
From the Open Directory Project comes their page on "Wells & Springs"; they currently [4/7/01] show 11 annotated links, including relevant folklore sites (there's a great one on the Cosmic Mill of Scandinavian and Finnish lore) as well as data on specific wells (mostly in England and Ireland).  You'll find some treasures here.  [Annotation updated 4/7/01] [Link broken 11 December 2004-- will get an update]
This is the "R" page from the fascinating Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by E. Cobham Brewer, dating from 1894.  Here is a relevant RAIN passage (it's 2/3 rd's of the way down the Dictionary's page):
Rain: To rain cats and dogs.  In northern mythology the cat is supposed to have great influence on the weather, and English sailors still say, “The cat has a gale of wind in her tail,” when she is unusually frisky. Witches that rode upon the storms were said to assume the form of cats; and the stormy north-west wind is called the cat's-nose in the Harz even at the present day.  The dog is a signal of wind, like the wolf, both which animals were attendants of Odin, the storm-god. In old German pictures the wind is figured as the “head of a dog or wolf,” from which blasts issue.  The cat therefore symbolises the down-pouring rain, and the dog the strong gusts of wind which accompany a rainstorm; and a “rain of cats and dogs” is a heavy rain with wind . . . .

Snow Crystal
Photographed by Wilson A. Bentley
(see directly below) [Link updated 11/20/03]

This lovely site from Caltech professor of physics, Kenneth G. Libbrecht, examines why no two snowflakes are ever alike.  The page offers images of and links to gorgeous photos of individual snowflakes.  I found it utterly fascinating.  [Update 11/20/03: the original site is now spread out over a number of linked pages, but the data is still all here.]
[Annotation updated 11/9/01]: From the "Weather Doctor," meteorologist Dr. Keith C. Heidorn, comes this marvelous essay on frost:
...Our friend Jack Frost, it appears, is a benevolent artist compared to some of the other frost beings of mythology. Jack is likely the son of the Norse god of wind Kari, born Jokul ("icicle") Frosti ("frost"). When Jokul Frosti immigrated to England with the Norse, he became Jack Frost, an elf-like being who colours tree leaves and paints patterns on windows....
Heidorn elegantly combines the science of frost formation with the folklore of Jack Frost, Father Frost, the "frosty sisters" of the Pleiades (from an Australian Aboriginal myth), Germany's crone who makes snow by shaking out her feather bed, and other such beings.  There are lovely photos of different types of frost as well. [link updated 11 December 2004]
This is a very brief entry from "Encyclopedia Mythica" on personifications of frost and snow -- Jack Frost, Father Frost, and Germany's crone who makes snow by shaking out her feather bed.   (This link is double-listed here and on my Winter Greetings page.)
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Menu of Common Themes, East & West:
Animal Guides
Animal Deaths in Europe: Of Cows & Madness
Artists & Muses: The Creative Impulse
Creation Myths I
Creation Myths II
Crones & Sages
Dragons & Serpents
Food: Sacrality & Lore
Land: Sacrality & Lore  (mountains, caves, labyrinths, spiral mounds, crop & stone circles, FengShui)
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Air: Sacrality & Lore (air, wind, sky, storms, clouds, weather lore)
Sky Goddesses & Gods
Fire: Sacrality & Lore (fire, northern lights, green-flashes, Elmo's Fire)
Fire Goddesses & Gods
Water: Sacrality & Lore  (water, wells, springs, pools, lakes)
Floods & Rainbows: Mythologies & Science
Water Goddesses & Gods
Green Men
Nature Spirits of the World
Rituals of Birthing [forthcoming]
Rituals of Death & Dying [forthcoming]
Rituals of Puberty
Rituals of Weather-Working: An experimental, on-going ritual in cyberspace
Sacred Theatre & Dance
Star Lore & Astrology
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Time(Calendars, Clocks, Natural Temporal Cycles, Attitudes toward Time, & Millennium Issues)
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Tricksters, Clowns, Magicians, Jesters & Fools
Wars, Weapns & Lies: The Dehumanizing Impulse
Weaving Arts & Lore (Cosmic Webs, Spinning, Spindles, Clothing)

Down to Geographical Regions: Africa

If you have comments or suggestions,
you'll find my e-mail address near the bottom of my Home Page.

This page created with Netscape Gold 3.01
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright © 1999-2004 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved except where noted.

Page designed & begun 26 & 27 September 1999; continued 19 & 20, 27-30 October 1999;
published 30 October 1999.
Latest updates: 11/1/99 (added Stone Circles section);
7 April 2001 (split from Land: Sacrality & Lore page;
checked all links; added 4 Emoto & 3 frost links); 12 April 2001 (Nedstated); 21 April 2001;
10 & 11May 2001; 1 July 2001.
Wee hours of 10-11 December 2004: updated the Emoto & other links + added several new ones.
15 December 2004: updated WGBH & De Meo's links and grokked a new one from Holisticnetworker.


Credits: The Four Elements bar comes from Torrey Philemon.
[Added 12/04, not yet grokked]:  Celtic water horses and other fairy-steeds.