The Magical Control of Rain OF THE
THINGS which the public magician sets himself to do for the good of the tribe, one of the chief is to control the weather and especially to ensure an adequate fall of rain. Water is an essential of life, and in most countries the supply of it depends upon showers. Without rain vegetation withers, animals and men languish and die. Hence in savage communities the rain-maker is a very important personage; and often a special class of magicians exists for the purpose of regulating the heavenly water-supply. The methods by which they attempt to discharge the duties of their office are commonly, though not always, based on the principle of homoeopathic or imitative magic. If they wish to make rain they simulate it by sprinkling water or mimicking clouds: if their object is to stop rain and cause drought, they avoid water and resort to warmth and fire for the sake of drying up the too abundant moisture. There is a widespread belief that twin children possess magical powers over nature, especially over rain and the weather. This curious superstition prevails among some of the Indian tribes of British Columbia, and has led them often to impose certain singular restrictions or taboos on the parents of twins, though the exact meaning of these restrictions is generally obscure. Thus the Tsimshian Indians of British Columbia believe that twins control the weather; therefore they pray to wind and rain, “Calm down, breath of the twins.” Further, they think that the wishes of twins are always fulfilled; hence twins are feared, because they can harm the man they hate. They can also call the salmon and the olachen or candle-fish, and so they are known by a name which means “making plentiful.” In the opinion of the Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia twins are transformed salmon; hence they may not go near water, lest they should be changed back again into the fish. In their childhood they can summon any wind by motions of their hands, and they can make fair or foul weather, and also cure diseases by swinging a large wooden rattle. The Nootka Indians of British Columbia also believe that twins are somehow related to
On the other hand. sometimes they publicly depose him from the rank of deity. and they may not eat or even handle the fresh fish. they raise storms by strewing down on the ends of spruce branches. They can make fair or foul weather. and when he turned a deaf ear to their petitions they put him in a lock-up for five days. Some years before. the jewel of water! And ripen the wheat and millet in the field. and carry it about in procession. the mock-dragon is execrated and torn to pieces. At other times they threaten and beat the god if he does not give rain. they make fine weather by shaking a small flat piece of wood attached to a stick by a string. In April 1888 the mandarins of Canton prayed to the god Lung-wong to stop the incessant downpour of rain. Hence among them twins may not catch salmon. associate twins with the grizzly bear.” The Chinese are adepts in the art of taking the kingdom of heaven by storm. “Send soon. The Shuswap Indians. In particular they can make good or bad weather. Thus. and can cause rain to fall by painting their faces black and then washing them. if the wished-for rain falls. twins remain throughout life endowed with supernatural powers. which may represent the rain dripping from the dark clouds. like the Thompson Indians.salmon. the same deity had been chained and exposed to the sun for days in the courtyard of his temple in order
. the god is promoted to a higher rank by an imperial decree. in time of drought. and hence they often play a part in charms designed to draw needed showers from the sky. when rain is wanted they make a huge dragon of paper or wood to represent the rain-god. O frog. The intimate association of frogs and toads with water has earned for these creatures a widespread reputation as custodians of rain. The rain ceased and the god was restored to liberty. but if no rain follows. This had a salutary effect. for they call them “young grizzly bears.” According to them. They produce rain by spilling water from a basket in the air.
Michael the Archangel were torn from his shoulders and replaced with wings of pasteboard. Even the great St. In ordinary years these holy sweepings preserve the crops. grossly insulted. At Nicosia the inhabitants. The people were in great alarm. and they swore to leave him there in the sun till rain fell. and children. Others again. Most of the saints were banished. either could not or would not help. had been hung on the trees. Every day the sun rose and set in a sky of cloudless blue. who annually performs the miracle of rain and is carried every spring through the market-gardens. Other saints were turned. Joseph in a garden to see the state of things for himself. if you will believe me. his purple mantle was taken
. but that year. like naughty children. in accordance with a very old custom. Food was becoming scarce. ducked in horse-ponds. illuminations. carried the crucifixes through all the wards of the town and scourged each other with iron whips. Consecrated candles had burned day and night in the churches. stripped of their beautiful robes. telling their beads.that he might feel for himself the urgent need of rain. By the end of April 1893 there was great distress in Sicily for lack of water. At Palermo they dumped St. Masses. vespers. At Caltanisetta the golden wings of St. threatened. Palm branches. concerts. women. Men. were withering. bareheaded and bare-foot. had lain whole nights before the holy images. At last the peasants began to lose patience. The drought had lasted six months. which surround Palermo with a magnificent belt of verdure. but precisely similar modes of procuring rain have been resorted to in Christian Europe within our own lifetime. blessed on Palm Sunday. were exiled far from their parishes. It was all in vain. with their faces to the wall. Francis of Paolo himself. The reader may smile at the meteorology of the Far East. fire-works—nothing could move him. The gardens of the Conca d’Oro. All the most approved methods of procuring rain had been tried without effect. At Solaparuta. Processions had traversed the streets and the fields. the dust swept from the churches on Palm Sunday had been spread on the fields. they had no effect whatever.
When they desired a shower they shook the chariot and the shower fell. St. he was threatened with drowning or hanging. A similar mode of making rain is still practised. Angelo. and this was supposed to bring down rain immediately. the priest of Zeus dipped an oak branch into a certain spring on Mount Lycaeus.
§ 4. Probably the rattling of the chariot was meant to imitate thunder. The Magical Control of the Wind
Often the stormy wind is regarded as an evil being
. “Rain or the rope!” roared the angry people at him. for he was left without any garments at all. there was kept a certain stone known as the lapis manalis. fared even worse. outside the walls of Rome. he was put in irons. Indeed he declared that he was actually Zeus.away and a clout wrapt about him instead. Thus troubled. while he hurled blazing torches in imitation of lightning. made mock thunder by dragging bronze kettles behind his chariot. as they shook their fists in his face. It was his impious wish to mimic the thundering car of Zeus as it rolled across the vault of heaven. we have already seen that mock thunder and lightning form part of a raincharm in Russia and Japan. or by driving over a bronze bridge. from which rain soon fell upon the land. In time of drought the stone was dragged into Rome. when prayers and processions had proved ineffectual. the Greeks and Romans sought to obtain rain by magic. provided they be dipped in water or sprinkled with it.Stones are often supposed to possess the property of bringing on rain. and caused sacrifices to be offered to himself as such. King of Elis. The people of Crannon in Thessaly had a bronze chariot which they kept in a temple. At Licata the patron saint. Near a temple of Mars. For example. or treated in some other appropriate manner Like other peoples. The legendary Salmoneus. he was reviled. in Halmahera near New Guinea. in Arcadia. when the corn and trees were parched with drought. as we have seen. the water sent up a misty cloud.
So the people took counsel and marched in a body to make war on the south wind. He says. with drums and cymbals beating.
§ 3. Stories of men who have caught the sun in a noose are widely spread. is perfectly credible. that once in the land of the Psylli.
. or killed. The net is intended to catch the sun. driven away. In the light of these examples a story told by Herodotus. the wind blowing from the Sahara had dried up all the water-tanks. Iron hooks are clamped into their walls for the purpose of stretching a net from one tower to the other. the modern Tripoli. so others fancy they can retard or stop him.who may be intimidated. into the red cloud of whirling sand. without however vouching for the truth of the tale. The Magical Control of the Sun
As some people think they can light up the sun or speed him on his way. which his modern critics have treated as a fable. But when they entered the desert the simoon swept down on them and buried them to a man. The story may well have been told by one who watched them disappearing. in battle array. In a pass of the Peruvian Andes stand two ruined towers on opposite hills.