How an Aquarium is You: Stagnation as a Spiritual Concept

It is not uncommon for the analogy to be made between spirit and water. It therefore comes as little surprise that in a standardized natal chart, a water sign occupies the 12th house–Pisces. The 12th house tends to get a bad reputation, because to access it requires more effort than typical. If one has a loaded 12th house, the best possible thing for them to do is learn to meditate. The more they become conscious of the unconscious, the better off they will be.

The reason the 12th house has issues is because it is one of the easiest houses to let stagnate. Why is stagnation a bad thing? Well, if we continue our analogy a little further, we can understand stagnation as a bad thing in the same way we do not drink stagnant water. Water flows cyclically. The more it moves, usually the fresher it is. If one has an aquarium, for instance, one will discover that it is essential to oxygenate the water. This introduces air into the water, which causes agitation. The agitation of air allows the water to move so it does not become stagnant. If one wishes to further filter the water, it is necessary to introduce some element of Earth. Most filters use what is called Diatomaceous Earth. This blend of Air and Earth in combination with agitation provides the necessary pieces for water to stay fresh and not stagnate. If we wish to carry it to the fourth element, fire, we could say that the electricity that drives the pumps for these activities is what “instigates” the process (or consider the aquarium heater). It is by combining all the elements and allowing them to interact that stagnation is avoided, and so our fish stay alive. In what form the elements derive matters little. Abstractly, we need air, earth, fire and water.

If, on the other hand, our ecosystem is unbalanced, we begin to experience stagnation in our tank. To carry our analogy even FURTHER, we shall consider a salt water tank with a reef inside of it. A salt water tank requires all of the above elements, with an additional element–salt. One cannot see the salt as they can with the air, water, earth, and from the heat generated, fire. All one can do is to place a salinity gauge in the water to measure the specific gravity and thereby establish what the salt content of the water must be. Once the salt absorbs into the water, it is impossible to know there is any salt in the water from observation alone.

If in our salt tank the element of Earth becomes unbalanced, that is the reef or live rock inside of it, it will produce too much life in the form of algae. This algae will be a direct consequence of the water being too saturated with nutrients–and so our water becomes unbalanced. If both of these are out of balance, the algae will consume additional oxygen, and so our air becomes out of balance. If all of these become out of balance, and our pump continues to run, it will filter out a lot of undesirable stuff, but the fire will eventually evaporate the water, and what is left will become sludgier as the rest of the conditions in the tank remain unchanged. The salinity of the tank will then rise to such a point as to become deadly, and there will be a mass die off until a new equilibrium in the tank is reached. The only way a die off is avoided is for some force to intervene to break the stagnation. If more water and salt is added, and the food is cut back, eventually balanced is restored.


This fish is clearly not fresh. Don’t let yourself follow his example.

Spiritually speaking, the human being is no different. The elements remain the same, but the addition of salt we might call “ether”. The ether is tantamount to the luminous body. The luminous body is composed of differing elements in differing proportions. If a human being is short on Earth, for instance, then he or she will likely lack practicality–or a sense of stability. We might call such a person “flighty”. If on the other hand a person is missing fire, we might say they are lazy, or they lack initiative. If a person is missing water, we might find them to be lacking when it comes to emotional sensitivity, and if a person is missing air, we might find them to be dull or stupid. If a person is missing salt, however, we are likely to find them vile. A person can be completely elementally balanced, and have no “light” or “ether” and we will instantly avoid them. The elements are necessary, but they are not sufficient on their own.

Stagnation then, spiritually speaking, becomes a problem because it throws the microcosm of the human being out of balance such that their elemental composition becomes toxic. Where this occurs, disease and death are not far behind. Nature uses such moments as transformational–a peat bog eventually runs its course. A swamp can only be a swamp for so long, then it becomes flowing water again and the cycle continues.

We stagnate especially when we are unaware of some piece of energy within ourselves. The more we are unaware of it, the longer it will stagnate, and the more reality will tend to push against the stagnation until we become aware of what we are missing, or we let go of whatever the issue is. Descartes suggested that nature abhors a vacuum, whereas the spiritual formulation is likely something along the lines of spirit abhors stagnation.

As long as we grow and strive to grow, we do not stagnate. Sometimes not stagnating is not comfortable. However, if we do not push against this feeling and grow, we invite death to our doorstep for ourselves and those around us. We’d do better to flow like water and add a pinch of salt.