Fontinalia

A reason to celebrate


| September/October 2001


Of all the mysteries of life on earth, none is more wondrous than water. An alchemical creation out of two common elements, it fosters all plant, animal, and human existence. This fact is easily overlooked in an age when the twist of a wrist brings an unending flow of the life-giving liquid, but to our ancestors around the world water was a miracle deserving of worship. Across pagan lands, explains Anneli Rufus in the World Holiday Book, rivers, springs, and wells were revered as homes of the gods. Holy wells can still be found throughout the world today, including more than 3,000 in Ireland alone.
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At the end of the sultry summer season in ancient Rome, citizens celebrated Fontinalia, a tribute to Fontus, a water god, by decorating public fountains with garlands of flowers and throwing petals into the waters. At a time when drought and water pollution threaten millions of people and multinational corporations are hatching plans to privatize water resources in the developing world, we too should be grateful for the gift of fresh water. Celebrate Fontinalia by finding ways to reduce your use of water, by lending a hand to environmental organizations fighting to provide access to clean water for everyone on the planet, and by planning a water-worship ritual of your own—perhaps sprinkling flowers into a nearby stream or lake.

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