On Fountains

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Picture 1. The Tazza Fountain, Italian Garden, Kensington Gardens, London.

There is something about a fountain that enlivens and refreshes. The physicality and coolness of gushing water seems to seep into the mind and spirit via the bodily sensation of just standing there watching, witnessing, hearing, absorbing and breathing in the fresh, cool, spray-filled air.

On a recent trip to London with my husband Fintan, we enjoyed an afternoon’s walk in Kensington Gardens, discovering the newly re-furbished Italian Garden in the process. The Tazza fountain held a particular fascination for me and its magnetic attraction kept me there for ages, feeling almost hypnotised.

But it was the sculpture itself that also set me thinking along a symbolic thread. Tazza derives from the Italian trend for bowl fountains, often supported by putti caryatids, which actually looked more like mermaids to my mind. It seemed as if there was an energy rising up from their tails and through to the Tazza’s gurglings, outpourings and water tumbles, full of light, energy and life.

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Picture 2.  Another view. Both photographs by Fintan McDonnell.

I was minded of a recent dream series where I dreamt of mermaids for several nights in a row. The final dream contained a particularly intriguing set of images and the mermaids had transformed into a merman:

I was standing by a lake, watching a man swim towards me. When he reached the shore, he rose out of the water and I ‘realised’ he was a merman, not with a fish tail but with webbed hands and feet and fins on his back and on the backs of his legs. He lay down on his side by the lake’s edge. I sat down beside him, ‘knowing’ he had been sent to me ‘with a special message’. He told me he was ‘the man from Atlantis’ and though unspoken, I perceived his communication that he had ‘brought me a gift’.

I ‘knew’ it was a gift of knowledge of some sort, which I now interpret as an unveiling of self-knowledge, a connection with the unconscious well of the universal soul perhaps. I am not a trained Jungian, but have delved far and wide into Jung’s writings and those of many Jungian scholars, most recently Jean Raffa’s blog at  http://jeanraffa.wordpress.com/ and sense there are more meanings in this dream, meanings which I wonder might take a lifetime to unearth?

But the feeling of motivation, uplift and renewed purpose has stayed with me, even though I don’t really understand the dream’s content and I think it was this that re-awakened on encountering the fountain, and all fountains since. So my love affair with water continues, and an obsession with fountains has just begun! Thanks for visiting, and slaínte 🙂

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Michael Ehrhardt

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