Praying for rain

Weather talks usually frustrate me a bit, since that’s something we have no power over, but this time I’m in. Let’s talk weather.

This year has been quite weird. Hopefully, just so far. It’s either cold, or way too hot. And no matter what it’s quite dry. Even though we water a lot, our garden and flowerbed look like a desert. A day watering, cracks start appearing, it turns greyish and I almost can here it begging, “Water, water.” I guess the wind doesn’t help much either.

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And the crop fields… Well, that’s somewhat of a taboo topic right now. We all are holding our breath and hoping. The moisture is still there, but it’s low, the skies are quite greedy this year and only allow our area a few drops of rain every week. We don’t have an irrigation system in place, so…

I started researching ancient ways of attracting rain (I know, I know, but it’s not going to hurt anything, and what if it helps).

First, I asked friends about traditions and superstitions they use to attract the rain. Answers were: to wash your vehicle (that definitely works for me, every time I wash mine there is a drizzle just enough to get it dirty on the way home, but unfortunately not enough to do anything else), to straighten your hair or to kill a frog (not sure what the frog did wrong).

Then I turned towards some ancient tricks. Throughout the history people were obsessed with meteorology. Back in days there weren’t much knowledge and understanding in place. (Hmmm, is it there now?) So people did their best.

The most well-known weather modification rituals are the rain dances, popular in North America (they are still quite popular in some areas).

In Africa, where weather was a life-and-death topic through centuries, people were not above rain dances as well. But the main responsibility for moisture laid on African kings. And if they failed to do the magic, they were risking getting a face-to-face date with a greater power in another world.

On wide Russian fields the variety of traditions and rituals was quite wide. Ancient Slavs used to till rivers. The village struggling with drought would gather at the river. Someone had to bring the plow and plow the river singing ritual songs. People believed that by raising the dirt up from the bottom they raise the level of moisture and thus cause rain (it does sound frustrating, but I guess the main power here was the faith).

In another region (called Polessye) people gathered by wells, mixed water with long sticks and called for drowned man Makarka, asking him to come and drink the soil drunk with his tears.

In some southern areas of Slav lands, to attract the rain a young girl, wearing a dress made of grapevines and a wreath on her head, had to walk from yard to yard where people would pour water on her.  

Another option practised back in days around old country, a person had to come to the middle of a field (at midnight, of course) and to draw a circle around self using water. Then get completely undressed, it was recommended to lift hands towards the sky and walk clockwise along the water path until it dries out. While walking, a person had to talk asking the Mother Nature for the rain. (There is a description of a similar ritual that is still used these days by women of Nepal).

Some peoples around the world believed there was no way to attract the rain without sacrificial offerings. Mainly they used animals. Thus, Native Hawaiians sacrificed black roosters. Various Indian peoples focused on black animals in general. Chechens used snakes. Some researches found records of human being sacrificed to the sun, as a part of the rain attracting ritual. (I sincerely hope that this only happened in far-gone past).

In Thailand to make rain farmers would fall back on so-called Cat Parades. This ritual was performed on the eve of rain season if no precipitation has occurred. Their ancients believed there was a connection between cats and rain. Cats (which naturally don’t like water) cried when get wet. So the superstition said that if a cat cries, the rain is going to fall. Other variation, if animal gets wet the draught will be driven away. Third option, the cats had magical powers and were able to make rain. So every so often Thai men would take their grey or black female cats, place them in baskets, one animal per basket, and all together walk around the village. Whenever Cat Parade was going through villagers’ houses, they had to splash water on animals. Three to seven days later the rain was supposed to cover the soil.

When droughts were torturing China, Chinese Wu, or shamans, who were viewed as intermediaries with nature spirits, held sacrificial rain dance ceremonies. They danced in a ring of fire. Moving explicitly they had to keep dancing until sweat started falling on the ground, which was believed to produce the desired rain.

Well, June is traditionally a rainy month in the southeast, and we still have half of it left, but extra precautions never hurt…

So now, when you have an idea on what to do (the web will give you the details), you can help me to get some moisture over here. 

© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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