"Then said the weather god to the queen goddess: 'we must act at once! We shall perish of hunger!'"
-- "The Hittite Myth of Telpinu" ("The Disappearing God Type"), in T.H. Gaster's THESPIS (1950), p.303.
"...Apollonius replies like a pure sophister: 'And must I think then' -- saith he that the world is a living thing ?' Saith Jarcas: "Yea, verily, if you reason rightly; for it giveth life to all things.'"
--Thomas Vaughan, THE FRATERNITY OF THE ROSY CROSS (1652)
If the Earth is a living being, what constitutes her skin ? The Hermetic "natural philosophers" elaborated the Hesiodic cosmogony whereby Chaos, Eros, Earth, and Old Night, make up the original pantheon of becoming. The Hermeticists understood that we live and walk on the pelt of an animate body -- just as Chinese mythographers called humans the fleas or lice on the body of the cosmogonic chaos-figure, Pan Ku. We are Earth's symbiotes -- or parasites -- or (Allah forbid) her germs.
The old Hermeticists also seemed to believe that atmosphere pervaded the entire universe; if they envisioned flights to the Moon or stars, for example, they never imagined the need for "spacesuits" to protect them against a vacuum. Air was everywhere. Cyrano de Bergerac dreamed of a way to reach the Moon by attaching to his body many sealed crystal vials of dew, which was believed to fall from and return to the Moon. Unable to escape from the vessels, the dew would lift Cyrano on rays of lunar attraction. Thus weather itself was -- at the very least -- sublunar in scope.
Meteorological phenomena or sky-events, from rain to clouds to comets, were not seen as parts of Earth's body, but rather as evidence that the universe is also alive. Thus every culture perceives a mating of Earth and Sky -- an erotic reciprocity with the universe -- which fecundates the planet. Weather spirits or deities belong to that sphere which is precisely not the Earth. Sky or "heaven", which includes what we call "space" -- the aether which fills the universe and is also alive -- expresses its sexual relation with Earth in the form of weather. For the early agriculturalists weather is the sperm of the spirits. One of the signs of this meteorological eros is the mushroom which (as John Allegro pointed out) has no seed but is planted direct from heaven by lightning bolts -- an almost universal belief.
Charles Fourier described the Aurora Borealis as the flickering remnant of a once-great "aromal ray" whereby Earth in former times held sexual congress with other planets and stars. Unfortunately,due to the malign influence of Civilization, which has degraded even meteorological phenomena, the "Northern Crown" no longer serves its proper function. If we could overcome Civilization and establish social Harmony, we'd see the Boreal Crown shoot forth a coherent laser-like 1000-hued ray of pure aroma, or stellar jizm, and simultaneously we would receive similar rays projected at us from other planets like sunbeams but even more concentrated and fruitful.
No matter what "science" tells us, this viewpoint will remainvalid to the extent that weather, as a sensuous event, really does come to us from "outside." Looked at this way, the skin of the Earth is her dirt-surface, her water-surface, and her stable biota such as plants (her "hair", etc.). The motile biota constitute an in-between zone or ambiguous third term between Earth and Sky. Humans, the upright pivots of this intermediate realm, are precisely the mediators between Earth and the weather, controlling rain by sacrifice or dance, and interpreting the falling stars. The Etruscans catalogued eleven varieties of lightning as auguries; -- weather has meaning, but the meaning is vaporous and evanescentas weather itself. The Taoists saw pictographic characters written in the clouds -- but for the most part only spirits could read them. Even in modern meteorology the weather retains an uncanny ability to express itself in myserious glyphs which seem to hover on the edge of meaning, like the Lorentz "Butterfly Attractor" which describes the ultimate unpredictability of weather in the form of a mathematic "writing" in the shape of a butterfly. In some way, weather always appears to us as an "Other."
However, science no longer believes that dew rises to the Moon and falls again with moonbeams. Earth is surrounded by "hard vacuum" (a nice paradox) which may be virtually universal. We've seen photographs of the Earthwhich seems to recreate the visions of shamans in flight, and we have noticed that weather is a very local phenomena. At first it might seem that the weather (clouds, blue sky, etc.) makes up Earth's cloak, a kind of close-fitting hallucinatory opalescent kinetic garment of atmosphere and moisture. But on further contemplation a more accurate metaphor occurs: -- weather is not the cape but the skin -- the peau sensible -- of the living Earth.
None of us can escape this newq world view. Even though as individuals we continue to experience weather coming to us from Outside, we must now superimpose upon this symbolism another and perhaps complementary symbolic structure.
In this second view, we humans are no longer precisely the ambiguous between Earth and Sky. Our relation with Earth has become much more intimate. We are inside her skin. We are part of the weather itself, her kinetic flesh, her kaleidoscopic nudity. How we ourselves seem somehow much more permeable, such that clouds and blue sky, rain and lightning, might well move in us and through us, as much parts of our skin and organs bones as we in turn are parts of the skin organs bones of Earth. We are ourselves meteorological events, not unlike rain or falling stars. excerpted from the larger body of work under the same title, from MAD FARMER'S ALMANAC; James Koehnline, editor; PO Box 85777, Seattle WA 98145.
The WEATHER issue also features CHAOS THEORY & WEATHER PREDICTION INTERVIEW WITH N.O.A.A. chief forecast scientist, Thomas Schlatter; STILLWATER BUTOH of Seattle; SOLAR FLARES research; poetry & more.