Why is water so evocative? It influences the emotions, the imagination and creativity. Yet we take it for granted, treating it as a convenience – to quench the thirst, to bathe in, and to remove rubbish. We don’t yet understand why living water needs to be treated with care. Water is the most familiar, yet, at the same time, the least understood of all substances on Earth.

Water carries all life. But water is beyond time, for it bears in its flow the seeds of future life, as well as the memory of past life. Water mediates between life and death, between being and not being, between health and sickness. We have lost touch with the magic of water, the freshness of the mountain spring, the reflection in a mountain lake, the mystery of a sacred well. We have allowed water to spread illness and disease.

From an early age, I knew that all life was interconnected and worked as a living whole. However, as an adult, I found that science fragments life in order to study it. This was a paradox – until 1979, when James Lovelock with his Gaia theory proposed that the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling its chemical and physical environment. He demonstrated that the living and non-living parts of Earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.

Holism is a strong theme of my book The Story of Water, for water is its epitome. Viktor Schauberger taught me that water controls all of life and that we are destroying life by our mishandling of water. I wanted to write a comprehensive account of how water creates and maintains life and, importantly, contributes to evolution.

The ancients were well aware of the magical properties of water, and regarded it as sacred. With our denial that we are part of Nature has come ignorance and hubris. Mainstream science has some understanding of the physical properties of water, but little of the energy or quantum features where the magic lies.

Water has anomalous properties, all of which seem to be designed to make possible high-quality life. Water appears to have a level of intelligence: in helping a salmon ascend a waterfall, or to create a ceiling at the tropopause to stop irremediable loss of water vapour.

The story of water encompasses not only the physical cycles of circulation in and around the Earth, in trees and in other organisms, and its role in creating climates and fertility, but also the part it plays in communication. Its role in transmuting energy and information to life is at the very heart of life and water’s memory.

Theodor Schwenk explains the science behind Rudolf Steiner’s theory that water records from the cosmos the information required for the maintenance and evolution of all life. I have developed this to suggest that the quantum field (the etheric) conveys to the water medium the patterns and templates for growth; so they act as reciprocal yang (etheric) and yin (water) partners.

How do we achieve almost instantaneous communication within and between organisms? Mae-Wan Ho, a biophysicist specialising in the study of the organism, tells how the connective tissues in organisms – which are made up of a highly conductive liquid crystalline matrix – are the basis of our biological communication system, probably pre-dating our nervous system, which has a slower response time.

Holistic biology recognises how all life systems are interdependent. I introduce the insights of David Bohm, Fritjof Capra and Patrick Flanagan. I discuss the world water crisis, and the likely effects of climate change on food production. How can we improve our water for our body’s health?

Water has much to teach us: the most important lesson is that Nature will not tolerate gross inequalities. Water’s role is to stimulate fertility and the productivity of the whole, not individuals in isolation.

“Through water, quantum coherent organisms invariably become entangled with one another. Because we are all entangled and each being is implicit in every other, the best way to benefit oneself is to benefit the other.” – Mae-Wan Ho

The sequel work will be on the spiritual nature of Gaia.

For more information see: www.AlickBartholomew.co.uk The Story of Water: Source of Life, Floris Books, 2010, ISBN: 9780863157387; US edition: The Spiritual Life of Water: Its Power and Purpose, Inner Traditions, 2010, ISBN: 9781594773600.

Alick Bartholomew is an author and editor and the founder of Turnstone Press and Gateway Books.