The Theory and Practice of Weatherworking
By Inanna Arthen
Since the first glimmerings of consciousness, humankind has stood in awe, wonder, and terror before the phenomenon of weather. Although deities were personified in the sun and moon, it was through weather that many gods were believe to act, for good and ill. The Assyrian god Pazuzu brought the searing southwest wind. Yahweh evolved from a god of thunder. Zeus cast lightningbolts; Zephyr bathed the faces of the hot and tired with breezes. Thor’s hammerstrokes created peals of mountain thunder. Every reader of myth can name a different example. Living under the capricious, unpredictable, malign, benevolent, and frighteningly powerful forces of weather was as close an acquaintance with High Powers as many people could imagine.
Since human life is completely dependent upon the fluctuations of weather-a fact as true today as 10,000 years ago-much energy has been lavished on attempting to maintain some sense of control over it. The search for control has taken several forms only one of which has been “weatherworking” or conscious efforts to command the weather. Petitioning the deities for clement conditions was by far the most common. The divine powers who were thought to control certain aspects of the weather were pleaded with, honored, sworn to, propitiated, and sometimes, abused and criticized, whenever the prevailing weather did not meet with the people’s needs and expectations. In China, for example, temple images were threatened and sometimes beaten by priests demanding rain; in Siam, idols were exposed to the blazing sun, and in many places, including Europe, sacred images were doused with water whenever rain was needed. This familiar treatment of ancient deities regarding matters of weather continued when those deities were translated into Christian “saints.” For centuries, the “patron saints” of industries whose workers were particularly vulnerable to weather, such as sailing, fishing, and farming, have been endowed with special powers concerning wind, rain, and storms. When conditions were especially bad, any and all divine powers shared the blame. During a dry spell in 1893, statues of saints all over Sicily were stripped of their finery, dumped outside their churches, reviled and even threatened with lynching, if the drought did not end. In modern times, millions of prayers were sent up last summer  from homes and churches throughout the Midwest, pleading for rain; and a February 1989 New York Times article reported that Roman Catholic churches in drought-stricken Italy were including “an ancient and rarely used” (and possibly pagan) prayer for rain in their Masses.
Since deities were recognized as being at least as temperamental as atmospheric phenomena, people quickly learned the wisdom of trying to second-guess them, and so was born the art of weather forecasting-probably a strong contender for the position of the real “world’s oldest profession.” Shamans of early tribal groups learned to predict rain, storms, and temperature extremes that affected the tribe’s movements and the availability of food, water, and shelter. In modern-day tribal societies, this is still an important skill, encompassing a body of knowledge and a subtlety of perception which is no longer part of the industrial world’s heritage. Shamans were believed to be able to magically control the weather, as well, but stories of such ability often involve special circumstances, or legends of great shamans of the past. There can be no doubt that authentic weatherworking was a part of the shaman’s role in many societies, although not all. In some cases, the shaman’s ability to accurately predict weather may have led to an assumption (one the shaman perhaps encouraged) that the shaman had caused the weather. In European folk beliefs, witches and other magick-workers were almost always believed capable of altering weather, usually for malicious ends. It seems quite likely that a witch’s ability to forecast storms led to her being accused of creating them.
This confusion is hardly alien to American society. The expectation that meteorologists- universally known as “weathermen”-deliver infallible and exact predictions borders on the belief that they actually have control over the weather. Like the unfortunate Sicilian saints, meteorologists are scorned for the uncertainty of the skies. One Boston-area meteorologist, appearing on a local talk show, reported that he was once slapped in the face by a total stranger on the street following a forecast that did not quite materialize. In ancient times, his penalty could have been far more severe. It is a perilous undertaking to dare to predict the weather for others, who risk their livelihood on your judgment. Little wonder that a large body of folk-wisdom concerning weather forecasting evolved. Those for whom the weather was a serious matter preferred to trust their own lore.
But if mere weather forecasting, the art of second-guessing the gods, is dangerous, what of weatherworking: usurping the divine privilege of the gods and, literally and figuratively, stealing their thunder?
Almost every human culture has a tradition of weatherworking, but the practices described fall into two distinct categories. First, there are the folk customs actually performed on a regular basis. These rituals are almost exclusively designed for the purpose of bringing rain, and almost without exception involve sympathetic magic. That is to say, for centuries all over the world, people, animals, stones and other things have been splashed, sprayed, drenched, dipped, and occasionally, drowned, in water to simulate the effects of the hoped-for rain. The second category includes those practices that were attributed to other individuals. Witches, magicians, sorcerers, and other magickal people were both feared and sought out because of their reputed ability to call (or quiet) winds, raise (or banish) storms, evoke lightning, draw clouds, clear a dark sky, or whip the sea to a froth. Rainmaking was a folk-art, part of a society’s heritage. Manipulations of a more dramatic kind were considered the province of a gifted few.
Today’s Witches and Pagans are the heirs of those weatherworking ancestors, and while some of us have discovered an innate gift for some forms of weather magick, for the most part we hesitate to meddle. Literature on the art of weatherworking is conspicuously lacking. Folklore concerning weatherworking techniques consists of a collection of small fanciful formulas; we are given no clues to the state of consciousness in which a simple action (tossing a flint stone over one’s left shoulder, for example, or sprinkling water with a broom) triggered the weather magic. It is a consciousness made up of love and respect for the natural world, and a harmony with that world so deep that our own identity is sloughed off and forgotten. In order to develop it, we must examine our attitudes, increase our knowledge, and stretch our understanding.
Unlike our spiritual ancestors, modern Pagans benefit from a global perspective. We all know that the atmosphere links the entire planet-that pollutants in the Midwest create acid rain in Norway, that nuclear fallout in Russia may come to rest on the forests of Alaska. We also know, or are becoming increasingly aware, of the relationship between seemingly isolated phenomena all over the globe. A few centuries ago, weatherworkers and rainmakers concerned themselves only with their own fields and watersheds. Pagans today understand that a change in the weather in one location means a change in many places, and ultimately, a change of some kind everywhere. If we believe that all things have a higher purpose, then tampering with that purpose carries a karmic debt. We have no way of knowing all the consequences of what we do.
For some magickal people, this awareness of our interconnections translates into a hesitation to act at all. For example, healers often advise against performing any healing without permission from the sufferer, and even then, we are told to “offer” the energy to the sick person’s higher self-not “force” a healing by our strength of will. Similarly, there are those who prefer not to “interfere” deliberately with anything, just because we cannot see all outcomes. If we carried this attitude to its logical conclusion, we would never get out of bed in the morning-indeed, we would hardly dare to breathe. To live on this planet requires that we accept our connection with all other life, and accept the fact that we change and are changed continuously in the unending tides of matter and energy which we share with everything around us. To be a magick-worker means opening ourselves to awareness of those tides and attempting, as much as we can, to replace unconscious action with actions chosen from our true Will.
Just as we recognize the need for healing and other forms of magickal work, so we realize that weatherworking is also sometimes needed. This is partly because humanity has altered the natural balance of things in a destructive way, but also because we are called upon, from time to time, to even out the threads in the tapestry our Mother weaves. Weatherworking is not done merely to benefit human beings, but to ease conditions for all living things. It’s one more way that Pagans can help the deities nurture and sustain life.
There are no secrets to becoming a weatherworker; like most magick, the techniques involved are simple to describe. Their effectiveness depends entirely on the amount of time, commitment and dedication you are willing to give them. There are four basic fundamentals in working weather magick. You will have the greatest success if you devote care and time to each one.
The first foundation stone of weather magick is complete understanding and respect. Weatherworking requires that we develop a deep relationship with the organism whose processes we will affect. We must confront the fact that we are an inseparable part of the planet Earth, our Mother Gaia. The winds that sweep across her surface are the pulsations of her breath; the rains we would call or dispel wash her body and replenish her seas. What we experience as local weather is only the tiniest part of a vast self-regulating system, one that distributes heat and moisture across the surface of our only home. To begin weatherworking – to even approach it – we just first detach our egos until we can bow in respect (physically and in spirit) to the planet Herself, her winds and rains, and the spirits that direct them. Detaching the ego is our first step upon the path, for it is by merging ourselves completely with the fluid processes of the atmosphere that we may achieve the greatest effects. The image of the all-powerful priestess or bearded sorcerer standing on a mountaintop commanding the skies belongs to the realm of fantasy. To work weather we must become weather. When we combine our understanding of Nature and its cycles with true self-understanding, we will be able to perform it in harmony with our fellow beings and the Earth.
The second foundation stone of weatherworking is knowledge. Before you try any serious weatherworking, you should have a thorough knowledge of weather science and the way weather patterns develop naturally in your geographical region. Meteorology and weather magick are not incompatible (at least not to a weatherworker!). Science describes and defines the physical world, and a knowledge of it is important. A shaman’s apprentices learned enormous volumes of knowledge which incorporated all the scientific observation and fact available to their culture. A “primitive” shaman’s knowledge of observable meteorology far exceeded that of the average 20th century American. The weatherworker goes beyond the meteorologist in her understanding of the greater forces controlling the isobars and temperature gradients. But this understanding does not invalidate the physical facts themselves. Tribal shamans spent decades watching the skies. Pagan weatherworkers are responsible for absorbing our culture’s equivalent of weather knowledge.
Learn the basic principles of meteorology. Keep a daily weather journal-become familiar with the patterns of your local weather. Learn to recognize different kinds of clouds and how they appear in all kinds of light, at all times of day or night. Invest in Peterson’s Field Guide to the Atmosphere; take a class in weather-watching. As you acquire more and more personal experience with weather patterns, attune yourself to the reality behind them. Learn to sense the presence of the spirit in the wind, the voice of the rain. Acquire an astronomical photograph of the planet Earth seen from space, and incorporate her image in your meditations. Become aware of the flow of moisture on the Mother’s body: her surface, like our bodies, more than three-quarters water. Learn to lose yourself in the ebb and flow of the air. Let the physical facts you are learning become part of your living reality.
The final cornerstone in the weatherworker’s magickal foundation is intent. While a clarity of intent will develop naturally from understanding and knowledge, it deserves careful consideration. It is possible to be well-meaning and make mistakes. For example, it has been common at Pagan gatherings to do weatherworking for the purpose of enjoying fair weather during the gathering. In the cases I have witnessed,this has not been entirely trivial; at one Wisconsin gathering, a tornado had destroyed a nearby town only two weeks prior to the gathering, causing great destruction and loss of life. At the 1988 rites of Spring gathering in Massachusetts, I facilitated a rain-averting ritual only after two solid days of downpours including a frightening and dangerous thunderstorm (campers are killed by lightning every year). Nevertheless, such usage of weatherworking is on the borderline of ethical behavior. During a midwestern gathering, a Pagan returning from a supplies run reported that even though the gathering had been rained on briefly, the surrounding area had been hit by severe weather; did the gathering weatherworkers worsen this weather by “bumping” it toward their neighbors? Further, rain-averting magick, even when counteracted at the gathering’s conclusion, can tend to linger and lead to drought. If normal conditions for rain are marginal, approaching fronts may be “bumped” quite easily. “Clear weather” magick should be considered very carefully.
Before attempting to influence the weather in any way, open your consciousness to the gods and the spirits surrounding you and ask for their views on whether your assistance would be appreciated. Usually, if you are clear in your own intent, your offer will be gratefully accepted, and you may be given useful suggestions as to how to proceed. On the other hand, at times you will be told to leave things alone, even when this advice seems wrong to your logical mind. Respect the feelings of the fellow beings you consult.
Difficult as it may be to accept, inclement local weather conditions may have karmic purposes, or be meant to balance out elsewhere. Such patterns become apparent over time.
Pagans who have a natural talent for weather magick often discovered those abilities in childhood, a time when ego and self-consciousness are not fully developed, and most weather is a source of wonder and delight. Adults who maintain those attitudes will have the most luck with weatherworking. If you want to work weather magick because you hate snow, fear thunderstorms and are annoyed by rain, you should take a careful look at your motivations.
As you become more familiar with the patterns of weather, practice allowing yourself to meld with the phenomena you are experiencing. A weatherworker is not merely an observer of weather, but a participant in it. Spend as much time out of doors as possible, in all kinds of weather conditions. Find places where you can sit undisturbed yet exposed to the elements. Allow your consciousness to merge with the weather; detach yourself from any awareness of your body as separate from the natural world around you. Feel yourself striking the ground with the raindrops, bursting and splashing, melting and soaking into the Earth. Share the sensation of a moving breeze, formless and yet definable, invisible and yet powerful. Experience the combination of heat and cold, ever confronting one another in great spirals and currents. Become a dark cloud, soaking up the sun above the releasing moisture below. Share the experiences of falling snow, of fog, or pure sunlight.
This merging of your consciousness with the forces that shape weather is the single most important quality an effective weatherworker can develop. It occurs naturally in some people, especially when they are young. Many anecdotes of spontaneous weatherworking involve weather in which the speaker took a particular joy and delight. Native peoples and magick-workers throughout history also developed this quality through their training and their close kinship with Nature. But we Pagans of the urban, climate-controlled and automated 20th century must relearn this skill from scratch.
Interestingly, much of the folklore about weather magick reveals a hint of this kind of consciousness at work. For example, it was commonly believed that winds could be captured in bags or knotted ropes. Sailors would buy winds from witches, tied into cords or scarves; to raise a wind, a knot was loosened. We can clearly see the psychological trick that turned the sailor into a (momentary) weatherworker. Binding is a powerful psychological symbol. The sailor subconsciously identified with the bound wind and the sense of relief it would feel when it was untied. He could imagine himself leaping to freedom after being so restrained. He would untie the knot in the belief that he was essentially releasing something alive, akin to himself – and the wind would blow. In a similar way, witches who scattered droplets with their brooms to make rain placed themselves in the role of clouds, showering water on the earth. Performers of “rain dances” imitated the rhythmic pounding of falling rain, sharing the physical sensation of rain with their bodies. Witches were believed to “whistle up the wind” (the reason that whistling on ships was considered “bad luck” – it brought more wind than was wanted). Whistle like the wind and you become a wind yourself – the wind will whistle back.
As you work on merging with weather, you will become aware of what might be humorously called “the Tao of Weatherworking”-doing without doing, changing the flow without forcing change. Difficult to describe, this skill will come to you from within. The easiest way to explain it is to say that weatherworking is achieved not by visualizing, not by willing, but by placing yourself in a state where the desired result already exists. You become the result-or, in another sense, you are dancing the result, without thought, in relationship with the great and small spirits all around you. You do not “call” these spirits but place yourself in a state where you and they are linked (as you always are).
Here are three exercises that will help you develop this skill.
Dispersing a cloud: Choose a day (or moonlit night) when the air is calm and stable, and the sky is filled with “fair weather clouds” of different sizes. Find a spot where you can lie on the ground looking up for some period of time. Select a small cloud, or cloud-wisp, and focus on it. Speak to the cloud and allow your energy to meld with it. If the cloud complies, feel yourself spreading out into the sky, losing your cloud-identity into the air surrounding you. After a few minutes, center yourself in your body again. Notice any changes in the cloud (if it still exists).
Calling breezes: Choose a time when the air is very still and calm. Find a sheltered place outdoors to sit quietly. Send your consciousness out upon the air and speak to the spirits surrounding you. Feel the currents of air bending toward you, speeding up as they approach and releasing energy as they pass. As you do this, notice any breezes which touch your face, and their direction and strength.
As a variant, feel your own energy flowing outward toward other objects that will move in a breeze (you might hang a light windchime or mobile nearby). Experience the sensation of being a breeze which parts and flows and pushes against solid objects, moving with them and making them move. Notice the results.
Making rainbows: Rainbows are formed whenever sunlight shines through water droplets in the air. We simply don’t see most of them. To see a rainbow, we must be between the sun and the water mist, and the sun must be fairly low in the sky. “Making a rainbow” involves pushing aside the clouds concealing the sun just enough to release sunlight to shine through the mist and form the rainbow, even if only for a few seconds.
Try this when the conditions are almost right, but not quite, for rainbows: late afternoon, with the sky partially overcast and partially clearing, rain falling to the east. Find a place to sit quietly, with your back to the sun’s position. Allow yourself to merge with the clouds behind you, and feel yourself as a being of light, pouring toward the falling rain. Experience the sensation of your light-self pushing through the clouds and diving into the water mist, refracting from white to an infinity of color. If possible, keep your eyes open as you do this, and notice the result.
Once you have mastered the fundamentals of weather magick (understanding, knowledge, intent, merging), you will be ready to do serious work. Practical weatherworking techniques are not more difficult than the exercises described above, but they are more dangerous. Generally speaking, there are two situations in which weatherworking on a serious scale may be considered: bringing rain, and tempering severe or extreme weather conditions.
Rainmaking is the most common form of weather magick that you will feel encouraged to try (especially if current trends continue). The different rituals, psychodramas and spells used in the past had the effect of focusing the participants upon the fact of water falling, of being wet. While this often worked, it did not look beyond the immediate result to the consequences for surrounding areas. The rainstorm that the rainmakers attracted may have been intended for somewhere else.
Foresight is valuable; don’t wait until drought conditions are serious before setting to work. Heavy rain after a long drought can do more harm than good, washing away parched topsoil and pounding dry plants into the ground. When conditions are dry enough to be a concern, and normal weather patterns do not appear likely to bring rain within a dew days, it’s time to start your rainmaking magick.
To attract rain, first ask the spirits if this is something you should attempt. (If conditions are dry, do not ask plant devas. They will always say yes.) If you are not advised to leave things alone, begin attuning with the greater weather patterns in the same way that you did with the clouds and breezes. Start at the beginning; do not work on an existing frontal system or weather pattern unless it is at sea. You do not want to rob someplace else of its rain. Focus on warm moist air rising from the south, heavy with energy, moving toward your location. Experience the merging of warm and cold air, forming clouds, dropping precipitation. Do not try to create a thunderstorm; instead, merge yourself with the long sweep of a warm front, which brings the deep soaking rain needed by crops and reservoirs. Be careful that your rainstorm does not affect a neighboring region which may have had too much rain already.
Once you have set things in motion, you may leave them to develop. Some weatherworkers use a staff, sword or other implement planted in the ground as a focal point. The energy they draw will tend to center on the object’s location. However, you should be aware that once started, the flow of weather patterns may continue for longer than you expected or wished. It is a good idea to consciously counteract your working after a period of time to avoid a steady stream of rainstorms marching along the path you’ve formed. Such sequences occur naturally all the time, and you could end up with flood conditions. The keyword is balance.
You should also be aware that sometimes the wave of motion you begin will simply peter out before forming a weather system. Ultimately, you do not control the weather; you are simply encouraging it. There just may not be enough energy close to you to create the kind of beneficial weather pattern you want. If this happens, do not attempt to reach further and draw in more energy. Weather is based on the most fluid and highly energized part of our planet: the atmosphere. Once tapped into, small changes quickly accelerate under the right conditions. It is possible to nudge a small cyclonic storm into motion, which evolves into a hurricane and heads directly for your vicinity. Hurricanes are a common weather phenomenon, and not all of them occur naturally.
Probably the second most common category of weather magic involves tempering or averting severe storms. There are several ways to do this, all of them somewhat risky.
The energy of severe weather usually exceeds the ability of a weatherworker to affect it, and “merging” with such weather can be an overwhelming (although sometimes ecstatic) experience. Great care and consideration should be given before attempting to influence or merge with a severe storm that is fully developed. Among other hazards, the storm will be drawn toward you if you act to temper it; if you attempt to avoid it, it will not be tempered and will, obviously, hit someplace else. Tempering and averting are somewhat incompatible actions, and neither will be very effective if tried simultaneously. Even more than rainmaking, handling severe weather requires foresight.
Before you consider acting on a weather pattern, be sure that it truly is “severe” and not merely a nuisance. Many people in the northern latitudes dislike snow, and many die in traffic accidents caused by winter storms, heavy rain, and other phenomena. However, there is a difference between weather so intense that it destroys buildings and wipes landscapes clean, and weather that causes deaths because human beings are too stubborn to adjust their activities to accommodate it. Weather that justifies our influence is destructive not only to humans, but to the environment as well. Winter snowfall is essential to maintaining water tables, soil moisture, and reservoirs. Although a severe Nor’ester may be tempered to reduce its winds, it should not be turned out to sea or its snowfall reduced. Similarly, an ice storm serves no useful purpose and is highly destructive to trees; it might be influenced by bringing warmer air to merge with it, turning sleet to rain (or chilling it, resulting in snow). But it should not simply be shunted aside in favor of blue sunny skies.
The most common way of averting severe weather is to “set up a wedge.” This is a psychic structure intended to allow minor weather patterns to pass, but “bump” more highly energized ones to one side or another. “Wedges” are easy to set up; you simply grow them out of the ground, in effect experiencing air as it acquires earthlike qualities of resistance and stability. A wedge may be detected psychically as a very tangible presence, and will decay over time; if it is not thoroughly grounded, pieces of it can hang around and disrupt local weather for months. A wedge is usually set up with a point aiming in the direction of the expected bad weather, and open on the other side. Closed wedge structures are not advisable.
In scientific terms, a wedge encourages a local high pressure area which normally bumps storm patterns aside. However, a strong storm pattern can override it.
If you foresee a storm pattern becoming severe, you may try to merge with it and temper some of its energy. In this case, you should not try to dispel the storm completely. Storms in the Northern Hemisphere act as heat exchangers, and their efficiency in this function should not be reduced. With current global warming trends, storms will become more important in alleviating temperature extremes. This is why articles about the greenhouse effect predict “super-hurricanes” in the future. With more heat energy in the atmosphere, storms not only can grow more powerful-they must, to accomplish their purpose.
Rather than dispersing a severe storm, focus on reducing the two qualities which can cause the most destructive effects: turbulence and rotation.
Turbulence may sometimes be “grounded” by helping to connect the storm to the ground so that its energy is drawn off. This should never be done when a storm is visibly rotating, as it may result in a tornado, but ordinary lightning storms may be calmed in this fashion. Often, a great deal of lightning will be discharged, so don’t try grounding a storm in a populated area. It can be beneficial in agricultural regions, however, because lightning strikes are essential for fixing nitrogen in the soil.
If a severe storm is visibly rotating, the chances of a tornado developing are high. They are so high, in fact, that if you spot a rotating cloud mass during a thunderstorm, you should telephone the authorities or local Weather Bureau and report your sighting, as a tornado watch will probably be put into effect. Meanwhile, you might attempt to “unwind” the storm by merging your energy with it and experiencing a clockwise rotation. This will be unpleasant, and you will be met with enormous resistance. All storm systems rotate – tornados form when this normal and harmless rotation concentrates into a very small area, first a single cloud mass, then a tight vortex, the “funnel cloud.” The normal rotation for storms in the Northern Hemisphere is always counterclockwise, and storms which meet resistance to this motion will slow down and lose energy.
Unfortunately, grounding and unwinding storms can have several negative results. The storm may stall, failing to fully exchange its heat and energy with the polar region, and causing sluggish weather conditions (and an even worse storm later on). It may stall and intensify, resulting in more severe weather than you would have gotten normally. It may also rebound from your attempt with redoubled energy. Finally, all attempts to influence a storm attract the storm toward you. Don’t even think about merging with severe weather unless you fully accept the possibility of having the storm at full force right over your house.
The most advisable way of influencing severe storms is to speed them along their path as rapidly as possible, without attempting to alter their nature. This will minimize the effects of strong winds and lightning, allow the storm to exchange its head and energy, and carry the least danger to you. Unfortunately, it will also reduce the amount of precipitation received by the area the storm passes through. When you are successful in “rushing” a storm on its way, you might compensate by bringing in a calmer weather pattern that will carry the needed moisture.
“Extreme” weather can also refer to temperature extremes. In the summer of 1988, New England and many other areas of the country experienced oppressive high temperatures, creating a health risk to humans as well as harm to other living things. Weatherworkers may alleviate a heat wave by encouraging a greater mixture of air from north to south. This may or may not involve precipitation. In general, it is a good idea to avoid rainmaking during very hot weather. The amount of energy available to the weather system could result in a severe storm, and heat waves typically conclude with a cold front known as a “squall line,” which may include high winds, tornados, hail, and lightning. Try to alleviate the temperature extreme and then focus on bringing in a gentle rain system, if necessary. Temperature extremes may also be alleviated during the winter using the same north-south mixing technique. Again, if there is considerable warm, moist air to the south, the potential for a very impressive snowstorm exists. Unlike the summer squall line, winter snowstorms are not always undesirable. As with all other forms of weatherworking, look ahead to the developing patterns and forestall extremes, when possible, rather than grappling with their power fully formed.
There are two weatherworking feats that you should take special care to be conscious of and avoid.
Lightning may be easily called to your vicinity, and a number of Pagans have interesting anecdotes about this happening to them spontaneously. It is wise to attempt to merge with thunderstorms only when they are at a distance, and to retreat to a secure indoor area if the storm approaches you. Detach yourself and center when a storm produces lightning within ten miles of your location. The strength of a lightning bolt ranges from a blow that can knock you flat, burn your skin, and strip the hair from your scalp, to “mega-bolts” with enough energy to vaporize you. The electrical current in a lightning bolt may be as high as 200,000 amperes and create air temperatures in the millions of degrees. Some Pagans have asked if the energy in lightning can be “used”-the answer is no. The energy of a lightning storm is highly invigorating, but individual lightning strokes are too uncontrollable, powerful, and short-lived. Do not try to merge with lightning or draw it to you-you might succeed!
Highly energetic thunderstorms can sometimes be encouraged to increase their rotation until a tornado is formed. Aside from the fact that making a tornado can be considered antisocial behavior at the very least, the funnel cloud will be attracted toward the weatherworker and will attempt to set down in her immediate vicinity. While I don’t assume that anyone reading this article will want to work destructive weather magick, it is important to realize the danger of being caught up in the flow of strong weather patterns. A weatherworker may become so involved with the energy of a powerful storm that she loses track of what she is doing and encourages the storm to intensify. This is one of the dangers in attempting to work with severe weather, and one reason why storms should be dealt with, whenever possible, early in their development and from a considerable distance. Weatherworkers, as a rule, are people who love weather; magick-workers often have a flair for the dramatic. We may enjoy a good thunderstorm now and then, provided we are safely indoors. However, we will share the karmic responsibility for influencing severe weather that causes harm to others.
In any event, it should be obvious that selfish or unethical weather magick is not only ineffective most of the time, but is self-regulating. There are few examples of unethical magick rebounding on its maker that are more dramatic than the storms, heat waves or droughts which inevitably, without fail, head straight for the magician’s doorstep. Well-meaning errors are part of our learning process, but when weather magick is done in harmony with the natural world and all its beings, it cannot be performed for malevolent ends. It simply won’t work.
An article such as this can offer only the briefest introduction to weather magick. Anyone who chooses to explore weatherworking in depth will learn enough to fill volumes. At this time, our troubled home can use all the assistance we may give it to become balanced and whole. By joining our energy with the life forces around us, by using all the magick that we know, we may become part of the process of healing. Weatherworking is just one small part of the power that has been given us for this purpose.
This article originally appeared in FireHeart, A Journal of Magickal and Spiritual Transformation, Spring/Summer 1989.
Copyright 1989 Inanna Arthen