In any age one can look into the water of a natural spring and see that it is alive. Shaken by a mysterious quivering that originates from within the earth, the liquid pulsates forth in its emergence. Looking into the sand at the bottom of the clear water, one sees the ‘eyes’ of the spring rhythmically spewing the grains here and there in little whorls and eddies.
The pebbles skip and wheel as if invisible fingers were playing with them. The water bubbles and dances aside in crystal sheets of mirrored trembling, to slip and pour across the moist rocks and succulent earth around it. Springing forth from invisible fissures, pushed upward into the light, the water rushes out of the mother’s side, out of her eyes, her mouth, her breasts. Springing into a fountain, the water is born of the mother and, coursing through her, takes on the limpid shape of her half-opened eyes and the dazzle of her smile.At the propitious time, Zeus removed to the place of his own nativity in order to await the wondrous birth of his daughter Athena who, it was said, sprang fully-armed from his brow. Her soul, arching forth into the world, was made manifest in a gushing fountain that spilled abroad her beauty and wisdom and was marked by a temple raised in her name. This is the sacred fountain of Tritonis (trito is an archaic word for ‘head’) in Arcadia where these waters of spirit and matter merged and became one glorious fount.
Symbolizing the Mother Source, these life-giving waters are like the milk of the Melodious Cow poured forth, once again, as the power of speech into the world. This is why from very ancient times the jets of water at many natural founts were directed through an aperture resembling a human mouth carved into the living stone. As the centuries unfolded, sculpted fountains were increasingly engineered in varied and ingenious ways so as to channel the flow through the opened lips of nymphs and gorgons, goddesses and gods. Pilgrims and travellers came to such places for instruction as well as refreshment.
In ancient Greece each fountain was believed to have its own genius. Some were visited for medicinal purposes, others in order to purge the effects of sin or the polluting contamination of some criminal act. Certain fountains were believed to possess oracular powers and were linked with famous oracles like that of Delphi, while a few were approached as mirrors through which one could look into the future or as founts of euphoria and bliss. Whatever their powers, pilgrimages were made to them accordingly and many became widely famous throughout the Mediterranean world.
excerpt from The Fountain, The Theosophy Library