Nov 22, 2015

Posted by in Astronomy, Gods and Godesses, Paganism | 0 Comments

Storm Pondering

Crossed wires shorting out, Troy, Illinois. Af...

Crossed wires shorting out, Troy, Illinois. After a few minutes of sporadic arcing, the transformer down the street burned out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several days ago, an unexpectedly intense storm hit the region where I live. While all of the official weather predictors did warn of occasionally heavy rain and a bit of wind, things took an unexpected twist, and approximately 225,000 households found themselves without power for a significant period of time. In fact, as I write, 20, 000 households are still waiting for the lights to come back on.

The last time we had a storm like this, mine was one of the households that went for close to a week without power. This time, we only had to wait about 30 hours. In my neck of the woods, power outages are a fairly common occurrence, because I actually do live in the woods! Any time there’s a windy forecast, we make sure that we stock certain essentials in the house, and over the years we have developed an “outage routine.” Thus, while this storm surprised us, we were able to rally.

As we huddled around the wood stove, boiling water for tea and listening to the howling wind, the pounding rain, and the crashing branches, I began to ponder – as I always do on these occasions. What must it have been like in ancient times, when there was no consistent way of predicting the weather? Even without power, our modern home was pretty good at protecting us from the elements. How weather tight were those ancient dwellings? When it got dark, we turned on our battery-powered lanterns and flashlights. How long did it take the ancients to invent candles and oil lamps?

The storm finally blew itself out, and the sky cleared. As bedtime drew near, I realized that, given the scope of the outage, there would be little to no light pollution. What a perfect opportunity to do a little stargazing! It was pitch black, except for the stars, something I had never before experienced. My nine-year-old hasn’t learned all of the constellations yet, so she just pointed at clusters and named the animals she saw in her head. She really saw Ursa Major and Ursa Minor as bears, even though I described them as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. We all saw more stars than we had ever seen.

Where am I going with this? Well, when a storm is raging, the windows are rattling, the branches are flying, and your only source of warmth is a fire, it is very easy to understand how the ancients came up with the concept of weather deities. When you’re planning out what to feed your children, how to cook it, and calculating how long it will be before you need to go to the store – and hoping your road isn’t blocked for longer than a week – it is quite easy to see how hunting, gathering, and planting deities were born. When the only light outside is coming from the 1st quarter moon and the stars, how can you not be awed by what you see? No wonder the ancients saw a goddess in the moon and guides and stories in the stars! I think we can still learn a thing or two from our ancestors.

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