Weather Magic (Part I)

There are two kinds of weather magic. One kind is powered by the weather. The other is intended to influence the weather. In the next three posts, I will be talking about second. Much of the weather magic we are familiar with come to us out of folk lore. It is the folk lore that tells you washing your car on a bright summer’s day will bring you rain, or that hanging laundry overnight on a sunny day will bring heavy dew. These things are at their most basic a superstition. Interwoven with superstition, however, are magical practices that have been handed down through the generations.

A fine example is the folk practice of hanging a horseshoe over a door with the open end pointed upward so that the good luck doesn’t run out of the shoe. (I’ll talk more about luck charms a little later.) Much of the folk magic in the United States that has been preserved comes out of the Appalachian Mountains and the rural regions of the country that are populated by the ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’. The folk magic of Appalachia is more Scots, Irish, and British in origin than the folk magic of the group of people known collectively as the Pennsylvania Dutch. The folk magic of the Pennsylvania Dutch (a group which includes the old order Amish, old order Mennonites, Anabaptists, and the descendants of the wave of immigrants who came from Germany during the period between the late 17th century and early 18th) hails from distinctly Germanic sources.

The folk magic that I am personally familiar with it to some extent an outsider’s take on some of the folk magic of the Pennsylvania Dutch (because elements of my family heritage comes from the region where they were prominent within western New York), an outsider’s take on some practices from Appalachia (because some of my family were in that region for a time), and it is also a combination of practices that have been devised or handed down through the family that are separate from either source. Folk magic is closely woven with superstition and some of the practices are indistinguishable from each other.

Folk magic is what comes when the line between causation moves from being based in the superstition to the deliberate action of the practitioner (and in the case of much of American folk magic, based in the action of the Divine as well). Thus, the golfer who wears his lucky socks in the hope of a good game is practicing superstition compared to the golfer who puts on his lucky socks in the deliberate effort to invoke a game where they are in a favorable position. Now, this distinction between superstition and folk magic is fairly important when you start looking a folk magic.

The use of folk magic, to people outside of the situation, will look like mere superstition. It is, however, something that operates by a set of rules that are relatively easy to comprehend. 90% of folk magic is some form of sympathetic magic. Almost all weather magic is sympathetic magic. In the next post, I will give some examples of weather magic that I have learned from my family and are part of the folk magic of the region I am in.

Originally Published: 1/12/16

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