Fragment of a mural of Tlaloc from the city of Teotihuacán.  Photo by Hélène de Fays

Rain’s been falling for two days.  Soft grey clouds hold the warmth of another Indian summer close to the earth.  Ground ivy and chickweed cling to the ground in a riot of verdure.  It’s good tea weather.

Weather patterns remain one of the many natural processes that resist accurate description and prediction by the most detailed scientific methods of the day.  Winds and clouds are, we are told, too mathematically chaotic to ken.  It’s that story about the butterfly and the hurricane.

The name of the Nahua high spirit of rain, Tlaloc, means ‘the one who covers the valleys’, i.e. the dense stratus clouds that lie low on the land when rainy weather comes.  It’s worth noting that Tlaloc is not responsible for or symbolic of rainy weather; Tlaloc is rainy weather.  We can choose to relate to powerful inhuman natural forces as blind, dumb, unfeeling phenomena absent of spirit or intelligent agency (“dense stratus clouds”) or as species of mysterious personhood.  Material accuracy may not be the only criterion in the comparative value of worldviews.  How does it feel to walk through a rainy day?  (Wet.)  How does it feel to walk within a god?

In Maid^ country, when kadiki ‘kitdom (kadiki– can you hear the sound of rain in it?) go outside without an umbrella for a little while.  The rain washes sins and bad luck right out of you if you let it fall on your head.  All our food comes from the union of rain and soil- no plants grow without both, no animals grow without plants.  Mushrooms good for food, good for medicine, good for holding the forest together, good for enriching the soil, good for the eyes spring up in hours when the raindrops hit the duff.  Groundwater that feeds springs and wells, grain fields and orchards, that drips and flows to hollow out grand caves and erect stalagmites and flowstone falls first from the sky.  Rain and fog ease the overland passage of Atlantic eels in their cross-continental journeys.  Ponds, vernal pools, puddles are filled with cloud-water, then frogspawn and baby salamanders.  There are few feelings quite so satisfying as walking into a warm, bright home with hot stew steaming on the stove and good company all around after a long day in the mud and rain.  The wetter the air, the warmer the hearth.

Rain isn’t the only natural force that does nice things for us, but it’s here right now.  Let the droplets dapple your brow.  What do you smell?  What sounds can you hear?  Any differences in how your senses are functioning compared to dry weather?  Where are the birds?  How do the little plants that grow around the base of the trees look?  How does the rain taste?  What symbols, images, or feelings come up for you when you stand in the rain?


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