Isn't it funny that when something enters your consciousness, it's all you seem to think about? I walked through midtown Manhattan the other day and I saw this odd little doorway fountain with the bronze statues peeking through. How have I lived here all these years, walked these streets countless times, and never seen this? I kept on walking and then I was faced with some fountains I'm more familiar with. And now I must admit, I'm a bit obsessed with these contained little bodies of water in my City.
Are you a wish maker? I mean, sure you are. Do you toss coins into fountains and make wishes? Whoever started 'throwing away' money in the hopes that more or something better would be delivered to them? Well, google tells me that people have been throwing coins into fountains for as long as there have been coins and, well, fountains. It all started with water and the absolute human need for fresh and clean drinking water. Of course today we can turn on a faucet and water flows for days — seemingly unlimited amounts of water are available to us.
That wasn't always the case and in many places in the world today clean water is a luxury and not easily obtained. In ancient times there were watering holes, fountains, or wells that held this precious water. So when clean water was available, many believed that such areas were a gift from the gods. Often, a small statue of a god could be found next to early wells and fountains, turning them into a type of shrine.
Presenting gifts to gods is an ancient practice that was usually meant to appease angry gods, or to act as a payment for a request or prayer. In the case of fountains and wells, people would toss in a coin while sending up a prayer—an early version of making a wish. Aha!
Interestingly, it wasn’t always coins that people tossed into these basins. The Well of Pen Rhys in Oxford, England called for pieces of clothing to be tossed in. In this case it was thought that the water had healing powers and that the clothing carried disease, so by tossing a button, pin, or piece of fabric into the well, you would be healed. The belief in the healing powers of the Well of Pen Rhys remained popular well into the 18th century.
These days, few people believe in gods watching over the wells or in water having healing powers, but people still practice this ancient tradition usually by making a wish.
One of the most famous, and a favorite wishing fountain of mine, is the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The Trevi Fountain was built as the end-point of an aqueduct called Virgo, named for the goddess who would guide soldiers to water when they were thirsty and tired. Originally, tossing a coin into the fountain or taking a drink from it was supposed to guarantee good health. Eventually, the tradition evolved to what we know today: if you toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, you will some day return to Rome. (It works! I’ve been three times so far!)
The Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest fountains in New York City and Central Park's most iconic fountain. It was dedicated in 1873, commemorating the 1842 opening of the Croton Aqueduct. This was New York City's first water supply system which brought fresh water following the city's bout with cholera. The Angel Of The Waters bronze sculpture was designed by Emma Stebbins, the very first public commission by a woman artist in New York!
When I think of coins and wishes, I think of abundance. When I think of abundance I think of the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity - Laxmi. She is often pictured with elephants and their trunks flow like fountains into pools of coins and she is standing on a lotus pedastal. She's my favorite of the deities. Her hands are open in a gesture of giving and receiving. In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. (And she has four hands and I always imagine I have more than two hands because I have so many things going on at once.)
Fountains always remind me that abundance has to flow - the more I give, the more I will get back. Wealth (financial or spiritual) replenishes itself. Abundance in spirit and compassion. Abundance in opportunity and gratitude. It all counts. It's all wealth. The water goes up and collects back onto itself. Or it flows out into a basin, and then bubbles back, continually refilling itself. Our good deeds and good thoughts do the same thing.
If you can, treat yourself to a wishing session by your favorite fountain this week. Give thanks for the water that easily flows. Give thanks to those early watering holes and aquaducts that nourished the people before us. Keep your arms open to give as well as to receive. And know that abundance of all kinds is on its way to you. It's flowing.
I have written this blog every Monday for FIVE years! Thank you for joining me on this journey. Your support is one of the greatest gifts. In this five years, I've written about abundance 21 times! Who knew? Well, the search bar on the blog knew... if you have time go back and read some of those old abundance posts and cook up the things I shared that symbolize abundance for me.
One of my favorite shapes in which to cut vegetables is the coin. I truly imagine they are pennies and nickles and dimes of flavor and goodness going into my dishes. You can coin nearly anything that has a root - beet, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, leeks, radishes - but even zucchini and eggplant. There's no real recipe, just a big fat warning that if you are slicing your veggies on a mandolin, to use a metallic safety glove. Seriously. Slicing an artery in your finger, and the hospital bill, and pain that accompanies it is NOT a lesson in abundance. It's a lesson in safety and a lesson from my personal experience. My chef friend Andy made this vegetable side dish one night for dinner with beets and carrots and I was blown away! I’ve used parsnips and carrots this time.
Roasted Root Vegetable Coins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, carefully slice your vegetables, toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper. (You can add your favorite spices - I do a sumac and za’atar combination, or my fave Egyptian spice dukkah, even a dusting of curry powder or lemon pepper!) Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven until they dry up a bit and crisp around the edges. check on them after 10 minutes, flipping them and roast for another 5-7 minutes. The sugars come together and create a chewy, pleasing leathery mouth feel.