As I write this, the rain outside is finishing a very generous, gentle shower. The kind I’ve been praying for all week. When I heard it start, I ran to the kitchen to fill a bowl with water, sprinkle dried flowers into it, and set it outside along with a glass of wine, in gratitude for the rain.
We recently acquired property in the jungles of the Yucatan, in Mexico, and we’re currently tracking 8+ forest fires in the state of Quintana Roo where we reside. As newly recognized custodians of land in this jungle, we’re suddenly very invested into the local weather.
Rain is the stuff of life. It brings nourishment to the many plants, trees, and animals in our care, of course, but it also greatly reduces the risk of fire. This will always be a concern. We plan to live in the jungle, build our home, grow food, and raise animals. Fire season is just a part of life now.
Our safety and our duty to the land will require a significant amount of maintenance: clearing brush, managing fire hazards, and the controlled burning of downed wood, for example. These are the visible, physical measures that must be taken but there is also work to be done in the invisible realms as well.
There is only so much water on the earth, just like there is only so much energy in the universe. Everything comes from somewhere; nothing is created, only transferred and transformed.
I suspect that, for the same reasons that dollar-under-a-candle money spells have never worked for me, the rain won’t simply do my bidding because everything comes from somewhere and everyone needs the rain. The water spirit(s) have many customers to keep happy. Simply summoning rain is unlikely to work in the long-term because the natural behavior of the rain is to spread the available water around.
We can’t compel the rain because it answers to a higher power: Mother Earth. To gain the favor of the water spirit(s), and their governing intelligence, an indirect approach is required.
Everyone likes to do business with a friendly, grateful customer -the kind that thanks you for doing your job well. If you’ve ever worked in a thankless service industry job, you’ll know how easy it is to favor the pleasant, appreciative customers and they often benefit from this favored status in many small ways: better/faster service, freebies, extras, and so on. There are rewards for being pleasant to work with…
Spiritual engagement isn’t so different. The spirits prefer to engage with pleasant, respectful humans who appreciate their efforts and demonstrate gratitude -especially when ritualized. The precedent for this dates back to the oldest rituals performed by humans; praying for (ahead of time) and celebrating (afterwards) the hunt or the harvest.
There is something profoundly right about the process of asking for, receiving, and demonstrating gratitude for the blessings of nature. Such rituals were once practiced essentially everywhere but fell out of popularity as people became focused on the gods of the distant heavens instead of the spirits of the places they inhabited.
Our obsession with the stars (and eventually reaching them) became all consuming and the ascent of civilization became our overriding priority. We’re eager to worship the celestial gods, and to petition them for a new job, a new love, and other such preoccupations of “civilized” people -but how many of us remember to show gratitude for the life-giving rain?
Such a practice couldn’t help but remind us of the perpetual miracle of life and the vital generosity of nature. Staring at browning leaves on trees and piles of dead branches and brush scattered around our jungle lot, as well as fire-fighting reports from not-far-enough-away, the importance of rain could not be more readily apparent.
I’ve “prayed rain” throughout the week; which is to say, I’ve visualized the rain on our jungle lot for extended periods of time. We say “pray rain” rather than “pray for rain”, according to my teacher (and head of the Four Winds Institute) Alberto Villodo, because we want to manifest the rain and not the need for it.
This is how we communicate with the universe -through intention. By “intending” rain, we communicate our desire to the universe, which reacts to this desire by creating consensual reality. The spirit(s) of Water which arrive in a rain storm are brought to us by this desire’s expression by whatever form of gravity it is that brings solutions together with problems.
In an ideal world, we would then express our gratitude for our prayers being answered. This cycle of need / desire / prayer / answer / gratitude is the key to healthy and productive spiritual engagement.
Through engagement we build rapport, which engenders favor; which benefits us; which results in more feelings of gratitude. Strong relationships are forged through fair exchange, wrapped in respect and gratitude.
As custodians of a plot of land in this tinderbox of a jungle, rain will always be seen as a gift. Such gifts require acceptance with gratitude and ceremony. I prayed rain; it rained…thus it is necessary to demonstrate gratitude for this gift.
That the prayers brought the rain (or not) is mostly irrelevant. Such a transactional view of magic isn’t well suited to working with Nature. We must remember that the rain has to come from somewhere and, when it does, we must remember to be grateful. We pray, Nature answers, her spirits deliver, and we show gratitude…rain and repeat.
To ask if our magic “worked” would miss the point. We can’t make it rain. We can’t make water. We pray, something responds, rain happens. If it rains, or not, isn’t a question of our skill with magic as much as the quality of our relationship with Nature, the weather, and the land itself.
Gratitude is part of the cycle -it’s our role to fulfill. An awe-inspiring feeling of gratitude completes the magical circuit that allows our intentions to manifest. Pray, and be grateful -ask and receive. The universe provides so long as we show up to ask, and it continues to provide as we repay its kindness with gratitude.
I left a bowl of water and jasmine flowers, along with a cup of wine, and a prayer of genuine gratitude for the glorious, healing rain we received. I did this because I am grateful, it is the right thing to do, and because we will need the rain again soon.
Thanks to the spirit(s) of Water for their sacred gift. Above all, thanks to Mother Earth (Pachamama) for her nourishment and care. Aho!
Featured Image: Jungle Rain, Land Of The Hovering Sun by Michael Smith