Alchemical Cycle Logo Master's Thesis:
The Elements as an Archetype of Transformation:
An Exploration of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire

| Table of Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Appendix A | Appendix B | Appendix C | References | Bibliography

Chapter 6 – Into the World: Dialogue and the Elemental Cycle

Practical Communication through the Elements

Water Characteristics and Techniques

You can tell that you are in Water communication when there is a prevalence of “you statements”, such as “You just said…”, “You make me feel…”, and “You should…”.  Often these kinds of statements can lead to biting or acrid remarks which may directly address some personal feeling about the other person.  In discussion, the other person acts as a template upon which we project our unconscious.  Because they are also human beings, if they sense this occurring (which they usually do at least at some level, even if only tacitly) then a pattern of attack/defense is initiated, and the exchange starts to feel a little bit like a battle.  When you notice you are becoming defensive or aggressive, and responses seem to rush up from below and come out of your mouth without being bidden, you are in Water.  The punishing push/pull feeling that creeps into the interaction can easily become dominant, and a natural response to this is expressed in our need to exert control in order to mitigate any damage done, often at the expense of damage to the other.  This is the “eye for an eye” level of communication, even when filtered through a modicum of self-restraint and decorum.  Questions are asked in Water communication, but they are designed to reveal or probe for weaknesses, to evade direct responses (as in answering a question with a question), or to lead the other participant along.  Often the discussion will center around immediate history, and it seems very important for each person to express their ‘version’ of events.  A major tactic in Water communication is to ‘build up’ a case by connecting all the possible facts that support a particular position.  It is often not enough to simply present such a case – the other person’s case must also be diminished, because in Water it is the relative differences between participants that matters.

A common feature of Water communication is the inability for one person to express a thought to completion, and interruptions are frequent.  Additionally, the self-connected aspect of Water manifests as the inability for either partner to let silences into the situation.  Rather, the exchange is filled completely with words because any pause by the other is taken to be an opportunity to either defend one’s own position or attack the other’s.  The gazes of the participants are direct, even piercing, and often focus on the other person to the relative exclusion of all else.  Faces become a stage on which a dramatic play is enacted; eyebrows, lips, tongue, eyes, and head, as well as the rest of the body, usually betray immediate responses and reactions that are only semi-conscious or partly controlled.  “Points” may be conceded by both sides but generally the mood after a discussion lacks the sense of completeness, clarity, or finality, let alone agreement.  Rather, the sense is that the same discussion could be had again and again, with infinite variations but little actual progress.  Indeed, the Water element may make a physical appearance in the form of tears shed in frustration, anger, sadness, or self-pity.

Water communications can also manifest in ways that are a little more subtle, tamed down, or less overtly polarized than the above description may indicate.  These more mild situations are characterizable by exactly the same tendencies, just in a softer and more muted way that doesn’t necessarily force everything to the surface and into the actual words of an exchange.  Nevertheless, the same emotional patterns, tendencies for projection, and need for self-defense are activated, even in a completely unconscious way that is difficult to detect even when we are looking for just such things. 

Phrases and keywords that typify Water communication:

“You said…”, “You indicated…”, “You <anything>”, “I feel…”, “How do you know?”, “What evidence do you have?”, “What makes you say that?”, “Can you show that…?”, “How was <some past event>?”, “Tell me about…”, “Let me finish!”, “Hold on a second…”, “Do you mind?”, “Yes, but…”, “How do you feel about…?”, “Is that really true?”, “Show me.”

To maximize and/or move into Water communication, try to be attentive to the local context and environment.  Bring up the immediate past, and try to discern how the present moment came out of some past sequence.  Ask, either aloud or to yourself, “How did it get like this?”  Similarly, bring up the immediate future, and try to discern where the present tendencies lead.  Imagine what the other person will say or do next.  Point out logical fallacies.  Don’t let the conversation skip randomly from topic to topic – rather make sure that each new topic follows appropriately from the last.

Top | Next: Chapter 6: Into the World, Dialogue and the Elemental Cycle: Practical Communication through the Elements: Air Characteristics and Techniques

© 2008 Seth Miller | Site: Spirit Alchemy Design |
Site map | Search this site