The Oxford English Dictionary lists one of the earliest usages of “undine” in English as occurring in 1657 with Henry Pinnel’s translation of Oswold Croll’s Philosophy Reformed and Improved. Since Paracelsus’s De Nymphis was published in 1658, I wonder if he had a bit of a hand in coining this word as well. After all, it isn’t much of a leap to take unda–Latin for wave–and make it undina, which is basically “one of the waves”. At any rate, this is basically a word that can mean any water spirit in any body of water–not just a specific sea or a lake or a pool or what have you.
I’m very comfortable with using the term “undine” to refer to all water spirits, but others view them as specific creatures in their own right. Roderick, for example, states that in traditional Wiccan lore, “undines are gilled, finned, and able to live in the depths of the seas, though their favorite dwelling places are wells, springs, and small streams.” Roderick also notes that “undines bestow the spiritual powers of water, including intuitions, dreams, insight, compassion, spirituality, flexibility, understanding, love, and tenderness.” However, they can also “impishly invert” these and create “foggy-headedness, weepiness, hypersensitivity, crabbiness, weakness, emotional instability, depression, and self-pitying.” He also notes that “witches work with undines to rebalance their own water energies or work magic that connects to water.”
Deborah Lipp, on the other hand, seems to be a little more general. She states that “Undines are Water. They feel and flow. They fulfill themselves in desire, intuition, and love. Do not expect them to be sensible, nor to hold still for very long. Sense is for air, stillness is for Earth, and undines have none of either. You can’t reason with an undine, although you can attract her.”
“Undines can appear to be quite human, as they share many qualities with humans–we can often be irrationally emotional, and often seek love above all other things. Folklore around the world is full of tales of lovely female creatures of the sea who attract men with their infinite sensuality–mermaids, selkies, sirens, etc., are all manifestations of undines. Like the current, they “pull you in,” and like the tide, they are quite changeable. Undines are graceful, their movements are fluid, and if they speak, their voices have a liquid, melodic quality.”
Practice: Meeting Undines
What You’ll Need
- Water Incense
- Water Oil
To begin, light some water incense and allow it to waft over your body, infusing you with its energies. Place a dab the water oil at all seven body-energy centers: base of the spine, pubic region, solar plexus, heart, throat, center of the brow, crown of the head. Next you will engage in a guided imagery. As always, you can read it and memorize the imagery sequence now, have a friend read it to you with your eyes closed, or tape record it for later playback.
Find a comfortable lying-down position and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and allow your body to become relaxed. Slowly allow the earth to hold you completely. Surrender your body weight to the planet, where it belongs.
Imagine that you stand at the western edge of a large freshwater spring. The spring is set within a lush, green forest and you cannot see beyond the surrounding greenery. Hold your spirit hands up toward the west. Feel the cool, fresh energy of the spring water circulate through you completely until you feel that you are one with it. Then imagine that you cast this energy out through your hands and it appears as an electric-blue power that forms a protective shield around you. Turn your spirit body in a clockwise direction, casting a circle of protection and containment with this energy that bursts forth from your hands. When you face the west again, the energy that once emanated from your hands subsides.
You are now completely surrounded by this blue field of energy, yet you are able to clearly see through it. Imagine that you raise your hands to the sky and summon forth the undines–the spirits of this magical spring. Soon you see finned, human-like figures emerge from the depths of the spring. When the undines appear, you notice that your circle takes on a sparkling cobalt hue. Ask the undines where near to your home you can find them. Remember what they tell you.
Reader: pause for a few moments.
When you have heard their answer, bid them farewell and firmly request that they return to their magical realm. Watch them as they glide back below the surface of the spring, leaving only the sparkling cobalt aura that surrounds you and your magic circle. This aura left behind is the balancing force of water. Feel it balance you, center you, and cause you to become whole.
Reader: pause for a few moments.
When you feel you have absorbed enough of the undines’ powers, it is time to close the circle that you have created. Imagine that you hold your hands up to the west, begin to turn your spirit-body in a clockwise direction. This time as you turn, imagine that you draw the energies of the circle back into your body. Then allow the energy to pass through your body and return to the earth below your feet, grounding it completely.
Once you have finished, it is time to open your eyes. Get down on your hands and knees and place your forehead to the floor, grounding and solidifying all of the energy you raised.
Take time to journal about your experiences, to draw a picture of the undines, and to write down where you can find them near your home.
Funnily enough, the forest spring I encountered in my mind was really similar to the Limpy Creek trails I found in Grants Pass, Oregon. The pool was very much like the waterfall pool in which I skinny-dipped a few Yules ago. I did notice a distinct emotional change after I mindcast the circle. I think I felt safe, and I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of pure safeness in a really long time. It was intoxicatingly relaxing. When I asked where I could find the undine spirit close to my home, several places snapped into my mind. There was, of course, Tumwater Falls, Capitol Lake, and the Budd Inlet of the Puget Sound. I think I half-expected the artisan well to make an appearance, too, what with all the major Olympia water features that flashed into my vision.
Interestingly, I didn’t really ‘see’ the undines so much as felt a presence. I wonder if that’s a by-product of my reduction in meditation and a subsequent skill loss, or if it’s more indicative of the undines’ energy. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say a little bit of both.
But what do I see in my mind’s eye when I lock onto undine energy? Well…it’s kind of like a seal…but maybe a little longer and leaner. Maybe it’s a selkie?