Email us:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fracking the Holy Land with the Holy Water

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park in the State of California
Courtesy of

(NOTE: Unless you read the first part of this series, FRACKING INSANE, you will miss background information that is essential for a complete understanding on this subject. There are so many facets, the deeper we got, the deeper it gets.  Though we may refer to some of this information, we will not repeat it in this or subsequent parts of this series, so we recommend you first read it, and if possible, parts two (RADON IN THE PIPELINES), three (OIL BOOM), and four (GORILLA IN THE ROOM).

When you walk along a trail or onto an observation deck in one of our treasured National Parks or Forests and you gaze into the Supreme, Eternal Beauty before your eyes, you are enraptured with a sense of Timelessness and Oneness with Creation. You feel like you have entered the Cathedral of Nature, a Holy place, which should be respected as such. In the immortal words of John Muir, the Scotsman who was a Founder of the Sierra Club and a major force in the establishment of our National Parks, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness”, and that “between every two pines is a doorway to a new world”. He also notably wrote, envisioning the setting aside of land, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike”.

President Teddy Roosevelt, who in 1903 was persuaded by John Muir to shed his security detail and venture with him into the Yosemite wilderness in California on a three day camping trip is quoted as saying, "Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.""The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others."

And President Franklin D. Roosevelt in describing the phenomenon of setting aside these beautiful areas as sanctuaries for the common man and wildlife alike, rather than for royalty or the rich, said, "There is nothing so American as our national parks... The fundamental idea behind the that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us."

Annually millions of Americans visit with parents, children and loved ones, and together we revel in the spectacular Majesty of Nature, leaving indelible memories and strengthening our relationships. To us Americans, these lands are sacred, just as many nations have followed the US model and have established their own National Parks in areas of natural beauty all over the world, and to their people and to all the citizens of the world these areas are equally sacred.

Many of us are city-bound and never get to set foot in one of our magnificent National Parks or Forests once in our lives, and most of us who have been fortunate enough to have done so are only able to have visited a few. Though John Muir, who thought nothing of walking 50 miles on a two day trek, would find it a poor substitute for actually being there, we recommend the six part PBS documentary by Ken Burns, entitled, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, with incredible scenic photographic video of many of our Parks and Monuments (for example, the Grand Canyon in Arizona was established unilaterally as a National Monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and it was made a National Park in 1919 by Congress and President Woodrow Wilson), and recounting the spellbinding stories of the people who have contributed to their establishment, against all odds, and against the politics of the wealthy who would prefer to exploit the natural resources of these areas. The history of our National Parks is so rich, (the first of which, Yosemite, was set aside by the federal Government and signed into law in 1864 during the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln, and was administered by the State of California, but Yellowstone became our first National Park in 1890 in the territory of Wyoming, before it became a State).

These are our National Parks, the last refuge for us and for our wildlife from the blight of progress, of which citizens everywhere are fiercely proud and would and should do everything in our power to protect.

But, unfortunately, the US Government seems to be having other plans for the US National Parks and Forests. As evidenced in the Energy portion of President Obama’s recent 2013 State of the Union speech (and rhetoric from politicians at all levels of government from both major political parties, including former President Bill Clinton), they are all encouraging the sale and development of gas and oil leases on public lands. These leases yield billions of dollars of revenue for the US government, and the Oil and Gas companies and their consorts contribute to the politicians’ campaigns. As covered in our article, GORILLA IN THE ROOM, they never mention the word, Fracking, but it is well known that since all large deposits of conventionally mined gas and oil have been tapped (and are waning), practically all new drilling involves Fracking.

We reported in our article, FRACKING INSANE, that over 3,400 of the over 13,000 (very conservative figures) new wells fracked annually are on public and Native American lands, and that the Obama administration has been very supportive to the Gas, Oil and Drilling Industries and has issued a proposed rule regulating fracking in these areas, since they are not covered by State laws.

According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Department of the Interior, a part of the Executive branch of our government, at the end of 2012, 37,792,000 acres (152,938 square kilometers) of federal public lands, an area larger than the State of Florida, are leased for Oil and Gas development. However they lament that only one third of these leases, 12,513,000 acres (50,638 square kilometers) are currently in production. As much as 95% of some of our National Parks are “split estates”, meaning that while the federal government owns the surface, the mineral rights below the surface are still owned by private interests, and can be leased by these interests to the Oil and Gas companies. There are also instances of vast areas of land in the West where the opposite is true, the surface is owned privately, but the mineral rights are still owned and can be leased by the government, again as overseen by the BLM.

The National Park Service, also an agency of the Department of the Interior, has a Geologic Resources Division which issues a “Handbook for Non-federal Oil and Gas Development in Units of the National Parks System” to assist the drillers and hopefully safeguard the Parks and Forests and the Wildlife from the potential ravages of drilling and fracking. In North Dakota alone over 1,000 spills of oil, wastewater, and other toxic drilling fluids were reported in 2011, not to mention those that went unreported, and the potential for this happening on our public lands would be devastating. The Water Resources Division of the National Park Service, as well as many of the Park Superintendants, have voiced concern over this, as well as the dangers presented by fracking on private, federal, Native American, or state lands upstream and adjacent to the Parks. The pollution from any toxic fracking fluid or toxic oil spill would simply wash downstream right into our Parks. The Park Service must also protect their water resources from the fracking companies’ aggressive needs. Air quality is another issue. Reports of high ozone levels rivaling our nation’s cities in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming from nearby fracking operations are very worrisome. The National Parks Conservation Association, whose stated mission it is to protect and enhance America’s Parks for present and future generations, as well as many of the Park Rangers, are also concerned about high particulates in the air and about light pollution due to Gas Flaring at nearby thousands of fracked oil wells close to Glacier National Park in Montana and Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (the Bakken Shale region, now producing more oil than the State of Alaska – See More Fracking Insanity Part 3 OIL BOOM). Many other National Parks all over the country are being affected by gas and oil drilling in one way or another. 

Infographic courtesy of the Center for American Progress

The Center for American Progress’s Public Lands Project published this map in September, 2012, showing 42 National Park units, 12 where oil and gas drilling is already occurring, and 30 which may be threatened in the future with drilling. To prepare this map, they used data provided by the National Park Service, primarily assessing three factors, the Park’s proximity to oil and gas resources, drilling already close to its boundaries, and the existence of non-federal mineral rights within the park.

From our meager research, we would like to also add to the list Glacier National Park in Montana near the Blackfeet Reservation, where extensive fracking is taking place directly adjacent to the park. We have heard that the BLM is not readily forthcoming with specific information and about a general lack of cooperation with media. We would encourage further research and monitoring of the developments.

We would also like to add that there is extensive drilling currently taking place in the Allegheny National Forest, the only National Forest in Pennsylvania, as well as in many of our National Forests. The National Forests are managed by the US Forest Service, an agency of the Department of Agriculture, another part of the Executive branch of our government, but remarkably the courts have upheld rulings that the US Forest Service cannot regulate leasing and drilling in our National Forests (that is the BLM’s purview), and is ordered by the courts to work “cooperatively” with the industry to process oil and gas drilling proposals. And Allegheny is just one of many National Forests that are hosting drilling (fracking) operations, not to mention State Forests and Parks.

Not only does fracking in our wild places involve the construction of well pads, rigs and holding tanks for water and chemicals (some so large they can hold over a million gallons), but it also requires the building and improvement of roads and all types of infrastructure, including pipelines, through our Parks and Forests. Certainly, they would not construct a well in the middle of one of the most popular vistas. Behind a mountain, where nobody is looking, is a more probable site. But, still fracking involves hundreds of tractor trailers every day going into and out of our Parks and Forests with all the noise, dust, and pollution normally associated with our cities, not to mention the threat of likely spills. Remember, it takes 400 5.000 gallon (18,927 L) tanker trucks to deliver 2 million gallons (7,571,000 L) of water, not to mention the deadly, if inhaled, tons of silica sand and the rest of the toxic chemicals.and supplies required for fracking.

As John Muir once said, “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But He cannot save them from fools.”

The danger to our wildlife, to thousands of species, as the drilling increases, could be devastating. We hear of anecdotal evidence where landowners in fracking areas in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming will not allow their pets and livestock to drink their well water for fear of them losing patches of hair and dying. Instead, at great expense, they are having water delivered, whether or not the oil and gas drilling companies are willing to pay. Just think of the risk to our wildlife in our Parks and Forests that have no option, but to drink the ground and surface waters. And our Parks and Forests have no fences. Even where fracking may not yet be occurring within the boundaries of our Parks and Forests, the migratory patterns of the wildlife take these animals outside onto Private and State lands where extensive fracking is already taking place. Exactly where these animals are being poisoned is of no consequence.

Courtesy of Google Images

(Referencing the song, ”America the Beautiful”), now that we’ve talked about our “purple mountain majesties”, our National Parks and Forests, let’s talk about our sacred “amber waves of grain”, America’s farmlands, the breadbasket of our country. Without getting into the subject of the ravages of Agri-business, no matter how rich and fertile the soil, you need Water to grow crops and to raise livestock. The problem is that Water in this country (and in many areas of the world) is in very short supply and getting scarcer.

As a result of Global Warming, rainfall and snowfall are less than optimum, (the snowmelt this spring in many parts of the country for the second year in a row is very disappointing). When it rains, it sometimes pours, due to higher moisture content in the atmosphere, also a result of Global Warming, but total precipitation over time is just too low. Especially in the Southwest and the Midwest of the US, the shortage of water is reaching crisis proportions. The groundwater aquifers, lakes, rivers and reservoirs are being depleted and stressed, and this is affecting crop yields and the ability to raise livestock.  And demand keeps growing, so the competition for water is growing, agricultural vs. industrial (example-huge water requirements to make plastic), municipal vs. agricultural, city vs. city, state vs. state, nation vs. nation. The legal and political landscape, as to who has primary and secondary rights to specific water resources, is so complex. And as world population grows and the effects of Global Warming worsen, the competition for water on a nation level may become even more fierce, perhaps to the level of bloodshed.

We are already experiencing in the US, and in many areas of the world, including Brazil and Australia, record heat waves, dust storms, the inability to navigate shallow waterways, and insufficient flows for the generation of hydroelectric power. Over a billion people worldwide lack sanitary water to drink, and face every day the choice of waterborne illness or dehydration (with its many ill health affects). And water has become a big business. More and more of the affluent people of the world prefer to buy bottled water, rather than smell and taste the chemically laced municipal water, and the price of water will only rise. (In the US, people complain about a $4.00/gallon ($1.06/liter) price of gasoline, but they seem to be happy buying a pint of water in a plastic bottle for $1.25, which translates to $10.00/gallon ($2.64/liter) for water.)

The current Drought in the US is so severe that 1,692 counties in 36 States (as of August, 2012) have been declared Primary Natural Disaster Areas, and hundreds of other counties bordering on these have been designated Contiguous Natural Disaster Areas, and are also eligible for part of the billions of dollars of federal aid.  Close to 60% of our nation, including 80%of our farmlands are suffering moderate to extreme Drought conditions. Although the New York Times and many media outlets have reported extensively on this subject, most of us don’t realize how serious it is. When we think of Natural Disasters, we think of Sandy, of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and tornados, but this, too, is a Natural Disaster of immense proportions, that will affect every single one of us in the price and availability of the food we eat and the water we drink and use.

Meanwhile, our politicians and business people, (and the American public, who have been brainwashed by the Natural Gas ads and the political speeches –See GORILLA IN THE ROOM), are happy to allow trillions of gallons of precious Fresh Water to be mixed with toxic hazardous chemicals and silica sand and injected into the ground to be fouled and lost forever by the gas and oil industry in the process of fracking. (And trillions of gallons of waste water from these wells, which come out of the Earth saltier than sea water (brine), and also contains toxic chemicals from the fracking fluid, and radioactivity from underground radium and uranium, must be disposed of annually.) In 2011, despite horrible Drought conditions in the State of Texas, they reported the usage of over 26 trillion gallons (98 trillion liters) of Fresh Water for oil and gas fracking. Typically, each well to be fracked requires 2 million to 6 million gallons (7,571,000 to 22,712,000 liters) of Fresh Water, and they plan to frack thousands more this year in Texas alone. We use the conservative annual figure of 13,000 new wells nationally, and given the Drought conditions we are facing, this waste of hundreds of trillions of gallons of our limited water resources is completely insane. It is irrational, and we, who are aware of the scarcity, and who see all Fresh Water as Holy Water, consider it criminal. 

Graphic courtesy of Wikipedia

70% of the world’s surface is covered by water, giving the illusion that water is plentiful, but out of all of the world’s water, 97% is salt water in oceans and seas and in saline groundwater. Only 2.75% of the world’s water is fresh water, including 1.9% frozen in glaciers, ice, and snow, and including .8% as fresh groundwater and moisture, and less than .1% as surface waters in lakes, swamps, and rivers. (And as the polar ice caps melt into the salt water of the oceans, the percentage of fresh water (2.75%) to total water will decrease.) Of the less than .1% surface fresh water, 73% of this is tied up in the Great Lakes of North America, Africa, and Russia, and 14% is in all the other fresh water lakes of the world. The remaining 13% of the less than .1% surface fresh water is found in swamps (11%) and only a small portion is found in rivers (2%), most notably the Amazon, and a very small amount is found in the atmosphere.

Nearly 50% of the US population relies on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water, and close to 95% in rural areas. These percentages are even higher worldwide. That is why we must protect our precious, delicate groundwater aquifers from any threat that might compromise their purity.

Fresh, pure H2O is the essence of life, the major component of all living things, plant and animal. Without it, grass, plants, and trees wither and die, and without it, humans and most animals (other than saltwater fish and shellfish) become dehydrated and cannot survive. With world population growing and the commensurate need for more food and fresh water, we cannot afford to squander any of our fresh water resources, and certainly not in a manner that will foul and waste it forever, (and remove it from the natural cycle of evaporation and precipitation as a renewable resource) as we are merrily doing in the wild fracking expansion in the US, and in exporting the process of fracking worldwide (to Halliburton’s and the multinationals’ benefit and delight).

Even Israel is trying to get in on the act, or so we’re told. We can’t believe that they will actually proceed, given the desperate need in Israel for fresh water for irrigation, and for industrial and domestic use. Hopefully, (“B’Yetzer Hashem” – Hebrew for  “In the Lord’s Name”), reason and respect will prevail. Knowing the risk of contaminating the already stressed groundwater, the well water of the Bible, in a tiny country, the size of the state of New Jersey, where there would be no escape from accidental spills or pollution, it would be unconscionable (and sacrilegious) to even consider fracking in Israel. This is the Holy Land for millions of the Jewish people, in Israel and throughout the world, and for all Christians and Muslims who all regard Jerusalem as a Holy place. This is the Jewish Land of Milk and Honey, whose people have always been proud of their ability to make the desert bloom. How dare they even consider the risk of polluting its sacred water, or any part of it, for their children and grandchildren, (and for the Palestinians’ children and grandchildren) for Generations (“Dorot” in modern and Biblical Hebrew) to come?

The Native Americans in the US and Canada, whose history has been fraught with dispossession, also talk about Generations, but not just about children and grandchildren, but of the 7 Generations to come. In Native American culture, all major decisions should bear in mind the interests of the children’s children for 7 Generations into the future. What a world it would be if our politicians, diplomats, and business people would use that edict in their decision-making!

But, not only does fracking fracture the rock to yield gas and oil, posing risk to the health of Mother Earth, her creatures, and every Generation including our own, but it is also fracturing the Native American tribes themselves. The gas and oil companies are using Native Americans for public relations jobs, just as the Nazis in Germany and Poland used Jewish collaborators to get their way in the concentration camps and ghettos of Europe. The proponents of fracking, with the assistance of these collaborators, have convinced many Native Americans to sell the mineral rights under their properties and reservations to the industry with the lure of the Great American Dollar. And so, fracking has already begun in a big way on Indian Reservations, with the blessing of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, yet another part of the Department of the Interior. In many cases, the Native Americans who are being convinced to lease mineral rights are being misled by the use of the word drilling, with little or no mention of fracking, and with assurances of safety. (Incidentally, they are also being underpaid, and lawsuits against the oil and gas drillers have recently begun.) This is all happening in the face of those that adhere to the traditional Native American culture and abhor (hate) the very idea of fracking.

The Tribes of the American Indian Nation – Courtesy of Google Images

Native American culture refers to the Medicine Wheel of Life, of the 4 primary laws of Creation (Life, Unity, Equality, and Eternity), of the 4 basic elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water), of the 4 Directions, and of the 4 Seasons, but in order to explain traditional Native American culture in its close relationship to Nature, (similar to many indigenous cultures throughout the world), and how it sees the ravages of fracking, we decided  to use the words of 4 Native American women, esteemed elders of their tribes, (as we transcribed them from videos). Their words are so much richer, and will give you a much deeper understanding, than any words we could write. We ask you to read these words not just to gain an understanding of Native American culture, but also to read them in terms of how they relate to you as a human being on this planet.

Glory Newbrass – Blackfoot Confederacy at the Head-waters of the American Continent –
“One thing we all share, and the reason I’m here today, is because everybody in the living human family needs water to live. Currently on the Blackfeet reservation we have multi-nationals targeting our sacred sites. We have oil companies bringing in with them drug dealers, prostitution, a threat to our very cultural way of life. Our cultural way of life is older than the United States of America. It is older than the Canadian government, and it surely is older and more wise and more ancient in the ways of how you get along in a spiritual sense on Earth than any Oil Company. Our indigenous systems of knowledge enable us to say, Look at the whole planet. See the living Earth. See all the living beings. We live in relationship with the natural environment. I ask you, remember my tears in your prayers, and to join as allies, as brothers and sisters in the human family, to make sure that the generations that come behind us have water to drink, a basic human right.”

Professor Robin Kimmerer – State University of New York - Potawatomi Tribe –
“Water we view as the life blood of Mother Earth. Water is one of our primary sustainers, and in a material way, we all know all the good that water brings to life, but it’s also an incredibly spiritual relationship that we have with water, especially women. In my nation, women have the responsibilities for taking care of the water. All human people come from water. Right? And so it’s women who have the responsibility of safeguarding it, of what we call, speaking for the water. It’s our sacred responsibility to speak on behalf of the water.”

Pauline Matt – Blackfeet Nation
“In our way, we can ask other spirits to help us. Everything has a spirit, everything in life. Those mountains have spirits, these hills have a spirit, the rocks, everything. I think I’m going to pray for these waters. And I’m going to take a walk all along the mountain front… And I’m going to pray for these waters.”

Grandma Rainbow Weaver – Ramapo Nation
“Thank you all for coming today and bringing all your heartbeats to the sacred circle. And when all of our heartbeats come together, they come together in oneness, one body, one heart, one mind, and one spirit, the spirit of love for our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children and to the next seven generations. And I’m going to burn some sweet-grass, and the smoke of the sweet-grass will take all of our thoughts and our blessings and our prayers up to the sky world, where Grandfather Eagle takes them to the Great Mystery” (Wakan Tanka - also known as the Great Spirit).

These valiant women are advocating for their cultural outlook on what’s going on in their struggle against fracking, with hundreds of tractor trailers rumbling through their drought stricken reservations, raising up clouds of dust, and in their struggle against fracking’s negative effects on their environment and on their communities, and so they are characterized as standing in the way of progress. These women and hundreds of other tribal leaders and organizations, such as Idle No More in Canada, and the Indigenous Environmental Group in the US and around the world, are fighting to preserve their culture, and fighting for their rights, one of the most basic of which is the right to clean, drinkable water.

One of the biggest shames of the US is the UN Human Rights Council’s finding in 2010 that over 13% of Native Americans lack access to clean water and basic sanitation, while less than 1% of non-Native Americans are thus affected. Though this report of human rights abuse in the US has little to do with fracking, it must be mentioned in the context of this article. The Human Rights Council is also concerned with the “legacy of death from uranium mining in the Southwest” referring to the sacred site of the Black Hills of South Dakota and many other sites, as well as the radioactive contamination of groundwater on Native American lands, and the fact that the US was the last of four holdout nations to endorse the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples in December 2010.. Incidentally the UN has declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation.

We in the US wastefully use more water per capita than any other people on this planet. It’s as if we regard our water supply as infinite. Although domestic use is only a small percentage of total use, and without addressing industrial and agricultural use, it will make little difference, we can all be more mindful and do our best to waste less. We are all responsible, and should do what we can. (See the chart on personal water use at the very end of this post.) Our supply, and the supply of fresh water around the world, is very limited, and the shortage is reaching crisis proportions, especially factoring in the Drought and the very real effects of Global Warming. 

In an effort to use less water (and in the unspoken effort to save money on water, detergent, and labor), hotels across the US have instituted a new policy of not washing every towel and sheet each night. In order to inform and involve their guests, most hotels have a plastic sign printed in green near the sink encouraging their guests to cooperate in their efforts to “save our planet” and ”reduce water and energy consumption as well as detergent wastewater”. On a recent visit to western Pennsylvania, I noticed a car in the parking lot with Chesapeake Gas (one of the culprits fracking the Marcellus Shale) written on it, and it was full of Chesapeake notebook binders. I wondered what the natural gas lease buyer or trainer staying at the hotel that night thought when he or she read this message referring to the waste of “millions of gallons of water”.

In one of the videos at the end of this article, entitled Fracking Hell, an overweight woman in her kitchen, whose well water has been contaminated by nearby fracking, makes what we consider an absolutely brilliant statement. “Water is a commodity. You might not think it is when you have it, and it’s good. But when you lose it, it’s gone. You’ll never get it back.”

We’ll end with the old blues lyric, “You never miss your water ‘til your well runs dry.” They might use this lyric figuratively, but we mean it literally. If we keep going on the path we’re on, and if we don’t stop fracking, we will destroy the Holy Land and the Holy Water upon which we all depend.

We are very fortunate to be in a position to offer you three videos of exceptional quality. They are each well produced with beautiful high definition images and excellent sound. The first video is entitled, “Fracking Hell”, and is apparently produced by the British, as part of their struggle, but focuses on the impacts of fracking in the Marcellus Shale of Pennsylvania. The next video is highly recommended as a beautifully presented Native American perspective on the issue of fracking and our sacred water supply. The third video was just released on April 1, 2013, so the timing couldn’t have been better, since it provides video for the story we described in our report. The title is, A Boom with No Boundaries, How Drilling Threatens Theodore Roosevelt National Park, named after our former US president, one of the champions of our National Parks. The video is narrated by his great-great-grandson Winthrop Roosevelt, and is produced by the Center for American Progress, which also provided us the Map of 42 National Parks that are currently in danger. (See More Fracking Insanity Part 3, OIL BOOM for background on what’s going on in North Dakota, the location of this park.)

After the videos, we have a new section called NotesforSpiritualGeeks (a new term we coined for people who might be interested in the spiritual and religious side of the picture). This is all material related to Water that we originally planned to include in the article, but realized it would slow down the pace, and let’s face it, some people are just not interested. If you are open to Spirituality and have any interest in Religion, please take a look. Also don’t miss Chief Seattle’s eloquent words that are so relevant to today’s topics of fracking and the value of land, air, and water. After that, we couldn’t do without some science, so we’ve got a very short NotesforGeeks section, with some statistics on Global Water Usage and a chart on Domestic Usage showing how much water we each use, for instance, 10 gallons (37.9 liters) for a five-minute shower. We also have a diagram of groundwater which clearly demonstrates how vulnerable it is.

Finally we’d like to wish a Happy Earth Day to our readers in Germany, Russia, the UK, and Australia (our biggest audience outside the US), and to all of our US and international readers. We really appreciate you taking the time to read our articles. And we extra-appreciate when you refer them to friends. We love getting feedback from our readers. Our email address is For the sake of our people, our families, and Mother Earth, we encourage all of you, as charter members of Woodstock Earth, to spread the word and help get these stories out.

Fracking Hell: The Untold Story

The Unfractured Future
A Native American Perspective

A Boom with No Boundaries
How Drilling Threatens Theodore Roosevelt National Park

NotesforSpiritualGeeks Although the material and quotes of John Muir and the Native Americans in this article were very spiritual, I really wanted to talk more about the spiritual and religious side of Man’s relationship to Water, however I felt that it would slow down the pace of the article, make an already long article longer, and let’s face it, some people are not that interested in the spiritual side of things. So I thought I might include it in a separate section for those of you who might be interested. This is not intended to be a complete, in any sense, review of the religious aspects of water. I’m sure that I’ll be missing so much, and I apologize for everything I’ll be missing. I just wanted to give you a little taste of it, because one thing on which I’d like to focus is that many of these people, neighbors, business people, and politicians, that are pro-fracking, that are vehemently pro-fracking, consider themselves devout, church-going, family oriented, religious people. They atone for their sins, and yet, in life, by supporting harmful fracking, (by advocating the eternal waste of trillions of gallons of precious life-giving Water, that we desperately need, not to mention all the other pollution horrors), they’re committing an immoral act. They are at odds with Nature. They are diametrically opposed to the Will of God. May God forgive them, because I certainly won’t.

Water is universally considered by all religions to be Life-giving, Pure, and Cleansing, both physically and spiritually. Yet, sometimes we are at the mercy of water, as it has the power to destroy, as well as create. The Deluge and Flood story is another universal theme in many religions and can be found in many parts of the world. It’s almost as if these symbols and stories are part of our DNA as human beings on this planet. Joseph Campbell, perhaps the most notable expert on Comparative Mythology said,” When you look at that nature world, it becomes an icon, it becomes a holy picture that speaks of the origins of the world. Almost every mythology sees the origins of life coming out of water. And, curiously, that’s true. It’s amusing that the origin of life out of water is in myths, and then again, finally, in science, we find the same thing. It’s exactly so.”

Christianity  From the words of a Christian hymn:
“I’m poor and I’m needy; I’ve been looking for water; it’s nowhere to be found. For thirsty souls, may Rivers of Living Waters, may Rivers Living Waters flow, on the barren heights of my soul. Be thou in me, Fountain of Living Waters, springing up to everlasting life. May Rivers Healing Waters flow, on the barren heights of my soul. Be thou in me, Fountain of Healing Waters, springing up to everlasting life.”
Jesus describes himself as “living water” and offers “living water”, so that one will never thirst again, in other words, eternal life through Him. In an act of humility, Jesus and the Catholic Pope wash the feet of common worshipers. Water is used in the Christening of babies and in Baptism. Holy Water is water that has been blessed. Water from the well is a recurrent theme in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and many religions.

Judaism  In the Talmud, the ancient interpretation of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), Torah is equivalent to Water. “Just as the fish cannot live without water, we cannot live without Torah.” The Jewish people thirsts for Torah. It comes in little drops until it forms into flowing streams. When you add one drop of water to another drop, you still have one drop of water, so water is one. It is divine. Religious Jews pray three times a day, and stand while reading a silent prayer, in which they pray from October to March (Sukkoth to Passover) for Rain, and from April to September (Passover to Sukkoth) for life sustaining Dew, since it rarely rains in Israel during those months. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, they perform a ceremony near a river or body of flowing water where they symbolically cast off their sins to be carried off and cleansed by the water. Many ceremonies involve the washing of hands, and the immersion in a Mikvah, a pool of spring or rain water.

Islam  “In Islam, water is important for cleansing and purifying. Muslims must be ritually pure before approaching God in prayer. Some mosques have a courtyard with a pool of clear water in the centre, but in most mosques the ablutions are found outside the walls. Fountains symbolizing purity are also sometimes found in mosques. In Islam ritual purity (called tahara) is required before carrying out religious duties especially salat (worship).” So five times a day before prayer, they are commanded in the Koran, their holy book, to wash the face, rub water on the head, and to wash their hands up to their elbows, and their feet up to their knees. Again, they must use spring or rain water, not treated tap water. There are also rituals requiring full immersion, and when water isn’t available, there is a form of ritual washing using sand.

Hinduism “Water in Hinduism has a special place because it is believed to have spiritually cleansing powers. To Hindus all water is sacred, especially rivers, and there are seven sacred rivers” in India. “Although Hinduism encompasses so many different beliefs, among those that most Hindus do share is the importance of striving to attain purity and avoiding pollution. This relates to both physical cleanliness and spiritual well-being.” Pilgrimage to holy places on riverbanks, seashores and mountains and especially at the convergence of two or three rivers, is very sacred. From bathing in the Ganges, the most sacred of the rivers, the pure are made even more pure, and the impure have their pollution removed, if only temporarily. In the sacred waters, distinctions of caste are supposed to count for nothing, as all sins fall away.” Daily and special occasion ritual cleansing is also a part of the Hindu religion.

Buddhism  “The offering of water at Buddhist shrines symbolizes the aspiration to cultivate the virtues of calmness, clarity and purity with our body, speech, and mind. It reminds us to diligently cleanse ourselves of our spiritual defilements of attachment, aversion and delusion through the generating of generosity, compassion, and wisdom. Upon perfection of these qualities, enlightenment (synonymous with True Happiness) will be realized.”

Taoism  “Water is the perfect substance according to Taoism. Water always seeks the lowest point and always takes the shape of any vessel into which it is poured. Water always flows downhill, and it always flows around any obstacle. Water seems to be the weakest substance, but it’s really the strongest. A steady drip of water can wear away a rock, a stream can create a canyon, a glacier (frozen water) can create a Grand Canyon, and water in the form of a hurricane or typhoon can erode” the shape of the land.

Indigenous Religions  Indigenous religions exist among the tribal peoples of Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, and Central and South America. Even Shintoism in Japan is an indigenous religion. These people we label indigenous don’t necessarily consider the idea of religion, because it is more their cultural “way of life”. In all indigenous cultures, there are many similarities to Native American culture, as discussed in the main article, in that they, perhaps, have a closer relationship than any other religion to Nature and to the “spirits” of everything in Nature, including the Water, the Animals, the Mountains, the Trees, and even the Rocks, which they consider the oldest living beings on Earth.

In summary, since Water is so important to us as human beings on this planet, both physically and spiritually, we must do everything in our power to honor and protect the Water, in order to defend the seven Generations to come, so they “may enjoy what we enjoy today”.

Let me include Chief Seattle’s letter in response to the US government, as presented in Bill Moyer’s PBS Documentary, The Power of Myth, featuring Joseph Campbell, quoted earlier in this section, who reads every word. I can’t imagine any words that could be more eloquent and more relevant to the topics of fracking and the value of land, air, and water. Again I urge you to read these words as it relates to you as a human being on this planet, and not just as a way to learn about some other culture.

Bill Moyers:   No one embodies that ethic to me more clearly in the works you have collected than Chief Seattle.

Joseph Campbell:   Chief Seattle was one of the last spokesmen of the Paleolithic moral order. In about 1852, the United States Government inquired about buying the tribal lands for the arriving people of the United States, and Chief Seattle wrote a marvelous letter in reply. His letter expresses the moral reality of our whole discussion.

"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
"Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
"We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are a part of the earth and it is a part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crest, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.
"The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.
"The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
"If we sell our land, remember the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sight. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.
"Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother? What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.
"This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
"One thing we know: our God is also your God. The earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.
"Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.
"When the last Red Man has vanished with his wilderness, and his memory is only a shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?
"We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it was when you received it. Preserve the land for all children and love it, as God loves us all.
"As we are a part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God. No man, be he Red Man or White Man, can be apart. We are brothers after all."

NotesforGeeks  There is nothing spiritual about this section. Just want to inform our readers about how much fresh drinking water they use (and waste) each day, and a few facts about water usage.

Worldwide, 8% of water usage goes to domestic and municipal purposes, 22% to industrial usage, and 70% of global water use goes to agriculture. But in the US, 46% of our total usage is industrial, and the water usage footprint of plastics and many other items should be under the microscope, and not just by the industry, but by the people. Agricultural use can also be drastically improved, in that there are less wasteful methods of irrigation.

Regarding domestic and municipal use, as of the end of 2012, in the US we each use an average of 151 gallons (571.6 liters) of water per day, considerably more than in any other nation on this planet. In the UK, the British use just 31 gallons (117.3 liters) per person per day, and in Ethiopia, they survive on an average of 3 gallons (11.4 liters) per person per day.

We all can, at least, be a little more conscious of our wasteful use of water, usually water that is costing us, or someone else, as the prices and the shortages continue to increase.

40 gallons
151.4 liters
5-minute shower
10 gallons
37.9 liters
5-minute power shower
20 gallons
75.7 liters
Brushing teeth with tap running
2 gallons/min
7.6 liters/min
Brushing teeth with tap off
.25 gallon
.95 liters
One toilet flush
3 gallons
11.4 liters
Other water use (drinking, cooking, etc.)
7 gallons
26.5 liters
Washing machine
40 gallons
151.4 liters
10 gallons
37.9 liters
Washing car with bucket
3 gallons
11.4 liters
Hose/sprinkler/washing sidewalks
140 gallons/hr   
530 liters/hour
Last, but not least, here’s a diagram that demonstrates our concerns about the exposure of groundwater to pollution, and the need to protect our aquifers. Any spill of toxic fluids or toxic oil on the surface can easily seep into our groundwater, upon which 95% of rural families depend for their drinking water. This is not to mention the risk of drilling and fracking with high pressures through and beneath our aquifers, nor the risk presented to our groundwater by the high pressure injection disposal wells..

Diagram of Groundwater --- Courtesy of


  1. I am so glad after coming here because you have shared such a nice information here .

  2. Very informative.Even many Hindu's are unaware of the importance of water in their religion. Water is the sustenance for all life. Water=life=water.