From Chapter 14
A CLOSER LOOK
Around the world, there are significant stylistic differences in weather-working practices, as might be expected when differing worldviews and approaches to life are considered. Despite their differences, all of these cultures acknowledge that the forces of weather are spiritually alive and sentient. More frequently we find evidence of harmonious weather workings. In general, these methods employ the ritual or ceremonial use of song and chant, dance, prayer, food or drink or herbal offerings such as tobacco, and more. Weather workings can be as simple as when many of us as children chanted (and maybe danced as we sang) the ditty “Rain, rain go away! Come again another day!” At the other end of the spectrum, we have the example of the Hopi people of the Southwest, who are well known for their successful rainmaking not only by virtue of their beautiful and elaborate ceremonies but also because these ceremonies come from a matrix of a people traditionally dedicated to living spiritually oriented and intentionally nonmaterialistic lives. As such they are able to continue to live and “dry-farm” corn in a notably arid region as they have done for hundreds of years.
Perhaps closer to home is the story of young Taylor Newton, age nine, of Connecticut, who in September 1995 performed a weather working of his own. Distressed over the severe, summer-long drought and consequent suffering of the gardens, trees, animals, and people of his hometown, one evening he donned his moccasins, painted his face and chest, took his mother’s drum, and proceeded alone to the backyard, where he danced and drummed in an effort to bring much-needed rain. According to Taylor, “Once I was done, the wind started blowing and trees were rustling. I thought, ‘Wow, this is neat.’ I never got spooked.” Taylor performed his weather working from the heart. When asked why he chose to do it, he replied that he danced for rain because “I wanted to help the people of the town.” It rained several times during the remainder of that week.4
How much of successful weather working is simply being in the right place at the right time? This sort of ambiguity can be our friend, helping us stay out of our own way so that we can focus on what’s really important: a harmonious balance for our realms. I learned during a drought-filled summer that our presence, focus, and genuine appreciation--along with appropriate timing--can sometimes tip the scales.
David and I were working in a place we have visited and cared for over a span of several years. It was as drought-stricken as any I had seen. The normally lush grounds were bone dry and brown at a time when the predominant colors should have been shades of green. Shrubs were dropping their leaves, and only a few flowers bloomed here and there. The towering oaks and sycamores were doing a little better, with their enormous spread of roots and longer life spans, yet their leaves had a pinched look as well. It was another regional drought for the Northeast--and a time for humans to learn more about the preciousness of water.
Our group wanted to do something to end the drought, yet the journey teachings clearly indicated that the drought was a necessary experience for reasons that we didn’t have to understand. We could, however, ask for some short-term relief. A couple of days later, during lunch hour, I felt I had to go outside, and immediately I noticed the beginnings of a promising cloud on the horizon. The day was hot and sunny, and the sky mostly clear except for this now very puffy cloud that continued to rise as it expanded. As I watched for ten to fifteen minutes, the cloud took on shades of gray and then blue-gray so that now it had depth, texture--and the possibility of even rain? I took a quick look around to make sure I was still alone, and then I started to sing a song of appreciation and acknowledgment of rain to come. I sang it over and over, spontaneously adding a little dance with my hands to the song--just like a child would, and like a child, I was having fun. There was something alive and joyful in this act of singing and dancing to a growing cloud, to the birthing of what turned out to be a brief but intense thundershower!
So what happened here? Conditions were promising. I showed up with my attention. I had a spontaneous feeling of a window of opportunity for something to happen. Through the portal of my genuine appreciation for the beauty of the cloud, I experienced an uncommon sense of connection with something greater than me. I felt playful yet sincere in my desire for some much-needed rain on behalf of that place I cared for. I offered the gift of a little song and dance. Was this a weather working or an expression of weather dancing with fortuitous timing? Who knows? The rain fell, and we were blessed.