Water people tend to make us feel uneasy, even if they themselves look quite calm. They can have a kind of frozen stillness, which can change into a leap into action if they feel threatened, as when something unexpected happens. Then their eyes are the give-away. Water eyes are always wary, watching everything carefully, and ready to swivel away to look at anything unexpected which might be happening to the side or behind them. They can then suddenly look startled, even though the rest of their face can remain surprisingly still.
I see Water’s colour as being of two kinds. There can be a very dark shadow over the whole face, in men often accompanied by the typical blue shadow around the beard area which Richard Nixon showed, particularly when he was under threat politically. You can then think of the whole face as being dark, even though when you look closely you wonder why you think that it looks so dark. Then there is the other kind of Water colour, when it has a kind of translucence, so that other colours show through it. I like to think that the dark-bluish colour is the Kidney, the more hidden, deep yin aspect of Water, whilst the translucent, lighter colour is the Bladder, its more outward-facing, flowing yang aspect. Those who have the Kidney as their guardian official give the impression of being much like still waters, which run slowly and deep, whilst Bladder people are much more like quicksilver in their movements and thoughts.
The Water element’s yang official, the Bladder, has the widest reach of any meridian, even dividing into two parallel pathways as it spreads over the back, and having the greatest number of acupuncture points, 67 in total. Its function is that of being in charge of the storage of water, whilst the Kidney, its yin companion, is more simply called the controller of water, with a mere 27 points. But even this number is the most of any other yin official. Merely by adding together the total of Water points we are made aware of Water’s importance to the whole energy network, understandable, when we remember that our bodies are composed of more than 80% water.
I have grown increasingly better at detecting a Water smell. It can be very obvious if there is great imbalance, when the smell of stagnant urine can be quite clear. At a more balanced level, I have found that when I am standing by the couch, what comes up to me is a feeling that there is some dampness around, as though I am near a pond or a bath full of water. This is when the smell just wafts upwards to my nose. This is certainly not an unpleasant smell at all, which the word “putrid” seems to indicate, but instead just a rather pleasant dampish smell.
I find the sound of a Water voice is rather tiring to listen to for a long time. It has a droning sound, which seems to drill into me, but in a more hidden, less direct way than the force in Wood’s voice. Listen to Bob Geldof or David Beckham talking (extracts on YouTube are an excellent way of doing this), and this drone, like a bee buzzing away at us, becomes very clear.
But, above all, we need to examine how we feel in the presence of a person, and ask ourselves whether it is we who are experiencing a kind of uneasy fear, and, if so, whether this is the fear in the other person, well-hidden. It is important to remember that Water will always try to hide its fear, transferring it instead on to us. Water is therefore often misdiagnosed, as it is very adept at hiding itself behind other elements. When I think I can see many different elements in one of my patients, then I have found it is often Water that is the element underlying them all.