I. Throughout the world, water appears as the fundamental and original element of the world and life (cf. Earth, Fire, Wind), and thus plays an important role in religious protologies. In the form of a primordial ocean or subterranean lakes, cosmogonic myths describe it as a created or already preexistent original substance. From an anthropological perspective, other fluids or “humors” can also be distinguished as constitutive of the human being. The vital importance of water, its purifying power, but also its threatening aspects ¶ (floods, tidal waves, massive rainfall) cause it to be addressed in the most varied religious discourses – frequently in a decidedly ambivalent manner, with both life-giving and life-destroying aspects.
II. Actual cosmic or topographical representations of water can be mythologically charged and “sacralized” when they are conceived of as a medium of numinous powers, as their representation, or as the sphere of their manifestation. (a) Rain, for instance as the gift of a (vegetation) deity or as the consequence of cosmic conditions, can be influenced through ritual acts (Prayer, Magic). (b) Seas or rivers are frequently incarnated by numinous beings (cf. the saltwater and freshwater deities Tiamat and Apsu in the Babylonian epic of creation