Into the Sky

But then a dark cloud formed over the mountain and its river, driven by a strong wind; the sky was torn by lightning that revealed no fount or cave on the mountain peak; and that was soon followed by a deafening thunderclap and sudden downpour that made it clear to the desert people that the source of their precious water had nothing at all to do with the mountain, or even the earth—but with the rain, and ultimately the sky!

Which started a lot of nervous counseling by the various terrestrial cults that prople should ‘stay down to earth’, ‘keep both feet on the ground’, ‘have enough sense to come in out of the rain’, and so forth—with at least one Peruvian cult trying to sell people on the idea that its mountain goddess, Atoja, actually ordered the rain and hence remained the ultimate source of water; but alas, no one was buying.

Rather, there now arose Our Lady of the Rain; witness:

  • New Guinea’s Abeguwo
  • Aymara Peru’s Acacila, who‘s also perceived as producng hail and frost
  • Benin Africa’s Aida Wedo, whose special sign is the rainbow, and who has ultimately come to represent clear water in all its forms
  • Shinto Japan’s Ame-No-Mi-Kumari-No-Kami, who has also come to represent clear water in whatever form
  • Philippine’s Anitun Tabu, also controls the wind
  • Korea’s Aryong Jong, all clear water
  • Inuit Alaska’s Asiaq
  • Uganda’s Atida
  • ancient Russia’s Azer Ava, in whose name oaths were routinely taken
  • Assam’s Bardaichila
  • aboriginal Australia’s Bunbulama
  • Zaire’s Bunzi
  • Aztec Mexico’s Chalchiuhtlcue, another deity of clear water in all its forms
  • Mayan Mexico’s Chibirias, whose sign was also the rainbow
  • Chumash California’s Chup, who also controls the wind
  • Mesoamerica’s Cueravaperi
  • ancient Canaan’s Dewi
  • Afghanistan’s Gish
  • Melanesia’s Goga
  • Taino Caribbean’s Guabancex
  • Nigeria’s Hara Ke
  • Olmec Mexico’s Huixtocihuatl, also fertility goddess in charge of agriculture
  • Panama’s Inanupdikile
  • Greenland Inuit’s Ignirtoq
  • Zulu Africa’s Inkanyamba
  • Mayan Guatamala’s Ix Cu
  • aboriginal Australia’s Julunggul
  • Tibet’s Lumo
  • Dravidian India’s Mari
  • Tamil India’s Mariamman
  • early Aztec’s Matlalceuitl
  • Bantu Africa’s Mbaba Mwana Waresa
  • Uganda’s Min Jok
  • South Africa’s Mujaji
  • Uganda’s Nagadya
  • Uganda’s Nagawonyi
  • Bantu Africa’s Nanvula
  • Iroquois New York’s Neoga
  • Tanzania’s Quabso
  • Brazil’s Rainha Barba, who also controls the lightning and thunder
  • Finnland’s Rauni, who handles it all: rain, hail, snow, lightning, thunder, and the rainbow
  • ancient Persia’s Sadwes, ditto
  • Brazil’s Schetewuarha
  • ancient Canaan’s Shala
  • early Hindu’s Surupa
  • ancient Hittite’s Tasimmet
  • Huichol Mexico’s Tate Hautse,
  • Huichol deity specially responsible for rain from the north, Tate Hautse Kupuri
  • Huichol deity specially responsible for rain from the west, Tate Kyewimoka
  • Huichol deity specially responsible for rain from the east, Tate Naaliwahi
  • Huichol deity specially responsible for rain from the south, Tate Rapawiyema
  • Taoist China’s T’ien Fei
  • South Pacific’s Tomituka
  • Hopi Arizona’s Trukwinu Mana
  • ancient Persia’s Yasht, water in all its forms

And that’s not even counting her special assistants, such as

  • Aide, Basque goddess of the wind
  • Alohura, Polynesian goddess of lightning
  • Feng Po-po, Chinese goddess of the wind
  • Fulgora, ancient Roman goddess of lighting
  • Inazuma, Shinto Japanese version of same
  • Iris, ancient Greek goddess of the rainbow
  • Peperuna, Slavic goddess of thunder
  • Percunatele, another Slavic people’s goddess of thunder
  • Perkun Tete, Balkan goddess of lightning and thunder
  • Siris, ancient Babylonian goddess of rain clouds
  • Tempestas, ancient Roman goddess of rain storm
  • Tien Mu, Chinese goddess of lightning
  • Tsetse, Zaire goddess of lightning
  • Tu-le’tar, Finnish goddess of the wind
  • Veja Mate, Latvian goddess of the wind
  • Wakwiyo, Tewa giddess of the wind
  • Whaitiri, Maori goddess of thunder
  • Xiu Wenyin, Taoist Chinese goddess of thunder

All of which soon engendered its own stock of unique customs and stories.

For instance, it was decided that initiates into the new cult of the Rain-mother would be sprinkled with water, rather than immersed in it.

And that mesmerizing rainbow? Why, many people came to think of it as some spectacular bridge that actually connected this, well, now ever so lowly place with the Great Mother’s real realm in the sky.

In fact, some people appear to have gotten a story going that it was down this very span that the Ultimate One in her newly revealed aspect as the rain actually delivered her great, liquid treasure—quite as into some pot faithfully set up by all her thirsty children down at this end, you know?

Of course, as the long-established symbol of fertility, the Serpent claimed that the rain was simply one of its forms and tried to claim the rainbow as its own symbol up there—causing many people to suddenly start speaking of the ‘Rainbow Serpent’.

But others dared to point out that the wind moving the rain-clouds all about was what actually initiated the whole fertilizing process; hence Our Lady of the Wind should be viewed as the real Ultimate One, they argued most vociferously.

Which in time led them to tell of this Great Bird that was as dark as the rain-clouds themselves, while her beating wings veritably made the wind, her flashing eyes the lightning, and her wild call the thunder as she periodically swooped down from her Mountaintop Nest on her mission of regeneration and delivered the rain wherever it was needed, before finally returning to her Primordial Egg up there; from which everything had really hatched in the Beginning, they claimed triumphantly!

Furthermore, the Great Mother’s true sign up there, they pressed on, was this Great Cross that was naturally formed of her body and wings as she passed overhead—not that silly rainbow, which simply revealed that the Serpent, or Pretender was attempting to scale Paradise!

Scarcely to mention, of course, that anyone worthy of that place would actually be issued wings.

“Beware the divine whirlwind!” they typically cried—while suddenly brandishing this cruciform statuette of a beaked, bosomy figure with outstretched wings seemingly reaching to embrace the whole world, save for an unhappy snake gripped tightly in its talons, or sometimes its beak.

So now check these out.

1. Cycladic mythical-bird figurine (note beak and breasts), ca. 3000 BCE, National Archaeological Museum, Cagliari, Italy
2. Cruciform Mother-figure, ca. 3000 BCE, British Museum
3. Cruciform Mother-pendant, Museum of Cycladc Art, Athens
4. Cycladic Bird-mothers, ca. 2500 BCE, National Archaeological Museum, Athens
5. Mycenean Bird-mother, ca. 3000 BCE, Oxford University
6. Bird-mother and Child, ca. 3000 BCE
7. Egyptian Bird-mother, ca. 3500 BCE, Brooklyn Museum
8. Roman sculpture, ca. 100 CE, Museum of London
9. Same theme discovered in ancient necropolis, San Agustín, Colombia
10. Modern rendition of same theme

_________________________

Sources

Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend, 2 vol., ed. Maria Leach, 1949

Wikipedia, List of Rain Deities https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rain_deities

GodFinder, Table of Gods http://godfinder.org/index.html

Photo Credits

1. Pinterest https://gr.pinterest.com/boufisj/cycladic-statues/

2. British Museum https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_2005-0317-1

3. Google A&C https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/cruciform-figurine-pendant-from-cyprus-unknown/kgFDZCDFpTEgDw

4. Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycladic_art

5. Pinterest https://www.pinterest.at/pin/114630752989721442/?nic_v1=1b7Q72Eok%2BB6zjVow0c6wG%2BzCbkD8XY80q%2B5pgiyBqlaCrV9SEl4mBoSDrFrvNW2aq

6. Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/mgrkinic/mycenaean-terracotta-figurines/

7. Brooklyn Museum https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4225

8. Daily Mail https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2478904/Roman-sculpture-eagle-devouring-serpent-unearthed-London.html

9. Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/315392780137646936/?nic_v1=1bZmtN8xP%2BwsoSsyh9ONGv6aW4xDqhyWfGktAtDZ%2Bupk2FtpFhrQ3IHIT5KExKLSlT

10. Misfits and Heroes https://misfitsandheroes.wordpress.com/tag/eagle-and-serpent/

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