Water Woman to celebrate the element that brings life 

New event inspired by California’s Burning Man festival

Every August, in the sweltering heat of the Nevada desert, tens of thousands of people descend upon Burning Man. It’s an outdoor event where organizers build a makeshift city filled with art installations such as ice sculptures and warped, inverted semi-trailers. It culminates with the burning of a massive wooden effigy on Saturday night.

But where does water get its due in all this sound and fury?

The answer is being provided this weekend by the first Water Woman festival, to be held at the Squamish Valley Campground this B.C. Day long weekend, Aug. 1 to 4.

Water Woman organizer Renee Hope, an artist and social justice activist from the Sunshine Coast, aims to provide a “complementary balance” to the Burning Man festival by offering what its website calls a celebration of the “Divine Feminine.”

The idea for Water Woman grew out of Hope’s disillusionment spawned with complaints she was hearing about Burning Man.

“Burning Man is a lot about the power of destruction,” she said. “People desire balance to the fire energies of Burning Man.”

Where Burning Man is characterized by themes such as debauchery and hedonism, Hope said Water Woman will have a lighter touch.

“There was a time of the goddess, and then it transformed globally into the predominance of the divine masculine,” she said. “We are feeling that there's a need for balance by empowering the divine feminine within women and men.”

Hope seeks to achieve this through a variety of installations and events that will take place throughout the weekend. They’ll include workshops for personal healing, as well as performance artists, a kids’ zone and an art gallery showing work by international artists.

On the more spiritual side, sacred musician Shimshai will be coming from California specifically for the festival, according to a news release. His music defies classification — it runs the gamut from Sanskrit mantras to traditional South American folk songs.

There will also be people from different spiritual traditions joining together to perform water ceremonies. People from several different spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism and various First Nations traditions will lead the rites.

The blessed water will then be collected in a series of fountains throughout the festival grounds. It will have a final blessing and then be poured into the Squamish River, which flows into the ocean. It’s a kind of spiritual cleansing ceremony, according to Hope.

“The point is that when you have blessed water, and you add it to other water, it charges and energizes that blessing or that power through the new water that it contacts,” she said.

Hope said the Squamish campground site was chosen because of its proximity to the mountains and the ocean.

“It is a beautiful place where there’s glacier mountains, which melt and run into the Squamish Valley River, which runs right along the shores of Water Woman,” she said. “This glacier river provides water for many people in the Squamish city, and it also flows out into the ocean, so it provides fresh water for, really, the world.”

Though she isn’t yet sure what the event will look and feel like, Hope expects that it will create a sense of community among those gathered.

“I think Water Woman may have started as an intention to create a complement, but it has evolved into its own thing, its own intention,” she said.

Tickets for Water Woman are available for $99 online at www.waterwomanevent.com and $111 at the gate for the four-day festival. Tickets can also be bought at a series of locations. They’re being sold at HighLife Records in Vancouver, Sacred Herb in Victoria as well as three stores on the Sunshine Coast — Coast Books, MELOmania and Wind and Song Gallery.


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