There seems to be an intrinsic need with the human psyche to talk about the weather, we are almost compelled to speak of the turning of clouds and wind and rain. As if that is not enough our delighted weather orientated child hearts want to compare the weather here to the weather there.
I am recalling a brief exchange with a dear friend speaking unasked about the coming weather here on the coast of British Columbia, “seems,” I remarked ‘they’; there is always the mysterious they when we speak of weather, “say it will be minus 5 this coming weekend.”, The response being, “Ah, but it will be minus 15 here!”, and you know what, we are both colder than Switzerland and Finland! And right now readers will be fighting off the need to speak up for their weather.
Weather seems to be this vague something we celebrate or fight against, as if it was something sent to make our lives a misery or to drive our lives into bizarre activities we would not normally do if the sun was not shining.
This morning it was cold and raining.
Later the sun came through the clouds and made the sea shine. Not just 30 minutes later a great mist turned my room in a shadowed twilight, then it rained; right now the temperature has soared to a staggering 10 degrees (that’s 50 for the other weather watchers) and the sun is revealing the sparkling leaves as well as the grubby windows in some back and forth argument of which is best.
There comes the moment when the only thing to do is stop being the observer and be part of the back and forth singing of the great mysterious jet stream that weaves not just around the planet but is an integral fabrication of the mountains, oceans and skies. It is in that moment we become part of that weave; not separate from ‘weather’ but the weather itself.
Not so long ago I was approached by an organising committee of my village to ask for good weather for an event they were planning. I got a sense this was tongue in cheek and they actually required some organising skills from me. The event was in early Fall and the possibility of cold rain was high. I did however sit with the Ancestral Spirits and put the request to them. The response reaffirmed the truth that the weather spirits and human spirits were out of relationship; “It’s our time to rain and be cold, have your event at another time!” was the stern answer. Seemed obvious really, just another way that humans think they control everything. However after lengthy learning a deal was struck.
The event despite the weather forecast was dry – no one said thank you! And exactly at 10pm the time the organisers has said the event would end (even though they pushed it to last longer) the darkest clouds came in and the coldest iciest rain deluged from the skies and continued for a day longer than the forecasters said it would.
Later that night I made the offerings of smoke and wine to my newfound friends and colleagues, the spirits of the weather.
We forget to be part of the world and nature, and such no longer have intimacy with these primal forces.
There is a legend about a medieval Saint called Swithin.
He was noted to be a very pious man who worked with the poor and the ‘ones who lived in the streets without houses’. Like St. Francis he is reputed as having the ability to work with animals and the simple children of the world.
Before he died he asked that he buried outside in the open air (as a bishop he knew his internment would be in Winchester Cathedral); William of Malmesbury recorded that the bishop left instructions that his body should be buried outside the church, ubi et pedibus praetereuntium et stillicidiis ex alto rorantibus esset obnoxius [where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high].
Time passes, the Cathedral gets bigger and Swithin is canonised a saint. So n 971 it was decided to move his body to a new indoor shrine, the saint marked his displeasure towards those who were removing his remains by creating a massive downpour which is said to have lasted 40 days; and it is said that if it ever rains on the day of his canonisation July 15th rain again will fall for 40 days to remind folks of Swithin’s pious and simple request that was ignored; there is ancient rhyme that goes;
St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ’twill rain nae mare
My hunch is that Swithin had that relationship with the natural worlds and did not seem himself separate from it. The reason for moving his body according to the stories was so that the saint would not suffer the indignity of being outside in the bad weather! Swithin was not upset they ignored his request; rather they ignored the simplicity and commonality of the human soul as one with the soul of nature.
During the Retreat at Samish, a similar deal was struck up with the spirits of the weather and they gave us time to be in their best behaviour. On the last day a storm came in. A storm we were informed by the locals never came from the sea not so fiercely. The wind was so strong that at times it was difficult to walk against it. One of the Staff said, “Thank you, now can you turn it off!” My belief is that we were being shown that the spirits can celebrate with us in their way and to remind us that we are not the ones in control.
There is a line at the end of Men in Black, where the hero is saying that it is raining and the heroine is crying. She replies that many cry when it rains. His response is that it was raining because she was crying; we are woven as one with nature. It is rains there is a sadness that needs some forgiving; it the wind blows there is some song that needs singing.
Let us not rail against weather; weather is merely a manifestation of the feeling of the spirits of this Earth; we overlook the need to share feelings with Máthair Tei our Mother. Maybe if we did this more we might take responsibility for our actions, which the weather is responding to.
Let the rain and the snow, and the cold and the wind and the heat and the clouds and the sun be our relations (for they in truth are) and let us celebrate the songs and dances, and listen to the emotions of our relations. We are the rain that falls and the chill wind that bites.
“My weather is better than your weather!” Be wary the spirits of the jet stream like to play the same games of rivalry and sparring as we do J
Rev Seanair John-Luke Edwards