I think everyone in this part of Kent watched a bit of the amazing thunderstorm that just passed over us. I was fortunate enough to be outside at a pub by the river as the storm came, and we got an incredible view. First, we had a fiery, angry-looking sunset, with an enormous pile of black clouds heading over from the other direction (think that bit in Independence Day when the alien ship enters Earth atmosphere, it looked like that). The clouds directly above us swirled and rippled. And then with some spectacular lightning bolts and booming thunder, the storm itself came with a downpour of rain. I was standing outside when the storm was right on top of us (the lightning and thunder occurred pretty much simultaneously, it was so close). My husband and I walked home while the rain was still pouring and the lightening still flashing overhead, and we felt so alive and invigorated getting soaked after such a hot, humid Friday.
I’m pretty certain I’m among a large percentage of pagans who get very excited by storms. They are the ultimate reminder of the awesome power of nature – for me, watching a thunderstorm is like watching a rock concert thrown by Nature herself! And let’s not forget the vital role that lightning plays in the ecosystem; it fixes nitrogen into the earth, allowing plants to absorb it, thus enabling life to exist on this planet. When one is in the midst of a storm, one cannot help but feel somehow that nature is conscious and watching us all – no wonder so many of the gods associated with thunder and storms have such high status, such as Jupiter, Thor and Lugh (as Lughnasadh, Lugh’s festival is approaching, a storm seems like a good omen!) .
Japan has a number of storm gods, including Raijin the god of thunder and Susanoo, the mischievous god of tempests. I suspect that my patron deity, Inari Okamisama, also has some association with storms. Certainly he is a god of rain. And the Japanese word of “lightning,” inabikari, derives from the characters hikari (光, “light”) and ina (稲 “rice plant”). The ina character is the same as that in Inari (稲荷), so I can’t help but think that the word inabikari may mean “light of Inari” rather than “light of the rice plant.” The fact that Inari is associated with rain, and that foxes are associated with strange lights both in Japan and the West, seems to support this.
Either way, I see storms like this as a positive and magickal phenomenon!