Among the many powers attributed to witches is the fantastic ability to summon storms, stir winds, and call forth any manner of precipitation as well as to withhold life giving waters to blight crops, and to destroy homes and villages with mighty winds and torrents of rain.
As an agricultural society our continued existence depended (and still largely depends) on knowing the weather in our area. People who stayed in one area over long periods of time noticed the cyclic nature of weather patterns and developed signs and omens to help them predict the weather. One of the most famous atmospheric predictors of the weather used by sailors goes "red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky in the morning, sailor's warning." Omens which predict rain include, but are not limited to, the following:
- To see a ring around the moon, means rain; in winter it could mean snow.
- When the crescent moon is shaped like an upside down U, portends drought.
- When the crescent moon is shaped like a U, it means rain.
- When the Sun sets behind a cloud means rain.
While some witches looked to the heavens for answers, others looked to the earth for natural predictors. A now famous ritual which takes place in Pennsylvania near the end of every winter entails waiting to see if a ground hog will see his shadow or not to determine the length of winter. Other natural predictors include,
- To hear frogs croaking in the evening means rain.
- Bird often roost early and eat more just before rain.
- Pigs will often insulate themselves before a cold snap.
- When cows lied down in a field it portend rain.
- When a squirrels tail is very bushy, it portends a harsh winter.
In addition, humans who have broken bones have often discovered that their bones ache right before a storm; human hair is also very responsive to the amount of moisture in the air. When the air is dry, hair shrinks and curls up, however when the air is moist (indicating rain) it swells and straightens out. My own grandmother could always smell the rain coming and sense the drop in temperature or atmospheric pressure right before it rained.
A relatively new belief in the area of weather predictors goes that whenever NASA sends a rocket into space, it will rain. But this is in mainly in the tri-state area around Cape Canaveral in Florida.
When the signs weren't favorable, witches developed spells and rituals to help turn the odds in their favor. Some of the methods witches have used to shape the weather include:
- Tying up winds in a rope or string and slowly untying the knots to release the winds. These types of ropes were often sold to sailors in the Middle Ages.
- A rather famous spell to call a storm includes dipping a rag in water and beating it against a rock in the Devil's name.
- Burn the picture of a deformed or otherwise ugly person and the heavens will cry for them out of pity.
- Place the 6th Pentacle of the Moon in water and it will rain as long as the Pentacle remains there.
- Dip a broom in salted water and flick it to the four directions to bring rain.
- Throwing rice in the air is thought to cause rain. Rice is thrown at weddings to bring good luck to the couple by washing away ill luck.
- Among Native Americans, the Rain Dance is a ceremony performed to bring rain and ensure the crops.
- Hang a dead snake in a tree and it will rain so long as the snake remains in the tree.
- Burning Ferns is said to bring rain as is burning cotton.
As witches, we align ourselves with the particular energy of our area each time we call the elements to our rituals, which I believe is the first step in beginning to manipulate the weather. If we move to a new location, we need to introduce ourselves to the energy patterns of the place in which we live and keep a detailed journal on weather patterns, local lore, etc...
In my personal practices in affecting the weather, I normally stand with my feet together and imagine them as deep roots in the earth. I slowly raise my arms up to the sky and feel the energy of Mother Earth traveling up my feet, spine, arms and out my hands and direct this energy at the sky. Sometimes I hold my hands slightly before me and slowly circle around clockwise. I visualize the rain (or other phenomenon) that is needed, and usually verbalize my goal in the form of a spell. My favorite rain spell/chant is "Ice, Cloud, Storm" which represents the three states of matter as relating to water (solid, gas, and liquid respectively.). So this method is about changing the gaseous clouds to liquid.
In other instances, I have created my own Weather Map. To make a Weather Map, I either purchase a map of the area I want to affect, or print one offline. I then bless it in the name of the area in the same manner I would a Poppet. Next, I re-create the type of weather I need over the map. For example, if I wanted rain I might paste storm clouds over the map, place clear bowls of water on the map, finger paint with water colors ( a great children's activity) or even pour water over the map. For snow or a cold snap, I could dip the map in water and place it in the freezer, or place a bowl of ice on the map. This type of magick is only limited by your imagination.
That being said, the manipulation of the weather is an area of magick which should always be taken seriously, and not without great thought; as changing the weather in one area can have a direct correlation on the weather in another area and can have undesired affects in what has been termed the Butterfly Effect.