Nowhere in the Fremen histories is a mere ritual so closely guarded, so sparsely documented, as that of the Water of Life. It is a hallucinogenic chemical which varied during the history of the Bene Gesserit/DE order.
All that is known for certain is that, on infrequent occasions, a select group of watermen (Fremen consecrated for and charged with the ritual duties concerning water) went out into the desert captured, a small sandworm, and returned with it to a special underground chamber which could be filled with water from the communal basin. The watermen then, after having been blessed by the tribe's Reverend Mother, dragged the worm into the water and held it there until it drowned.
Their leader stood watch in the water at the worm's mouth, waiting for the creature to begin its death flumes. When that moment came, he signalled the men holding the front of the worm to lift it from the water so that he could capture its last, liquid exhalation in a special water bag, this liquid was the Water of Life.
In its raw form, this 'illuminating' poison was deadly. When altered within the body of a Reverend Mother, however it became safe for consumption by the uninitiated and was used by the Fremen in their sietch orgies (times of heightened awareness of one another's thoughts and emotions which served to bind the tribe ever more closely together). A single drop of the changed poison was sufficient catalyst to alter even large amounts of the liquid.
The alteration process is described in much the same way as that undergone by Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers being initiated with melange. The consciousness of the individual became internalized, her timesense was slowed, and she was able to perceive the molecular structure of the poison; perceiving it, she could change it.
Sometimes, in the case of a Sayyadina attempting to achieve Reverend Mother status, this perception was not sufficiently quick or strong, and the poison remained unchanged. In such cases the candidate's body was cremated—the only instance in which cremation was used—and the Water of Life set aside and carefully guarded until a new candidate could be found. To put the body through the deathstill while it contained the unchanged poison could be fatal to the entire tribe, and leaving it in the desert invited even worse consequences, as it was known that the Water of Life could become Water of Death if allowed contact with a pre-spice mass.
The result of that transformation could be the death of the entire desert ecosystem.
When a pregnant breeder drinks the Water of Life, it is carried in her blood to the womb, and activates the fetal psychic awareness and produces a babble of sound and sensory imagery which the un-born is unable to comprehend or assimilate. THe child born however will be see with adult comprehension susceptible to becoming an Abomination/DE. For this reason, the Azhar Book/DE prohibits women who partook the Water of Life bear a child aterwards, or a pregnant participate in any form of the ceremony, on pain of death.
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