There is a pagan-operated campground that I frequent where the caretakers discourage the very use of the phrase “weather magic.” As the story goes, several years back someone attempted to use a little magic to clear up some intermittent rain and provide an upcoming festival with some sun. In true Discordian fashion, a flash flood ensued. Similar stories of failed weather manipulation float around many of the pagans and magicians I have encountered in the area, apparently fostering a general distrust of weather magic. Indeed, the very nature of weather (and of magic) makes such complications possible when performing weather magic – a straightforward attempt at a simple result in such a large system can have unintended consequences. However, the consideration of a few basic principles can reduce these potential problems and make weather manipulation more practicable.
Claiming the ability to control the weather carries a few heavy implications. Control is certain and secure, and connotes an ability to account for and affect the entirety (or at least the majority) of a given system. Someone with the ability to control the weather might be able to determine the exact time and amount of a given rainfall, the precise wind speed and frequency of gusts, and which neighborhoods will receive rain and which will remain sunny.
While I suppose that such a high degree of control may be possible by a highly skilled and focused magician, I do not regard such results as practical for most people, and certainly not for myself. I do not, therefore, work to control the weather, but rather to influence weather patterns that are already present or are predictable in terms of seasonal and climatic norms. As a student of aikido uses his opponent’s momentum against him, the weather magician uses the movement of weather systems and air masses to his advantage, expending relatively minor effort to alter the movement or development of such systems.
Reasons for influencing the weather can be both short-term and long-term. A short-term reason might be to ensure clear weather for an outdoor ritual, good conditions for a weekend festival, or warm weather for a weeklong campout. Long-term reasons might include a desire to alleviate drought or flood conditions, extended heat waves, severe old spells, or to stabilize planting seasons (for anyone who has lost a crop of seedlings to a sudden cold snap) . The longer the duration of the desires effect, such as a week of nice weather versus two days, the more effort and consideration that must go into the operation, as the magician is required to regulate more factors for a longer period of time.
When interfering with long-term weather patterns, such as suppressing a drought, great care must be taken in considering natural climatic patterns and fluctuations – deviating from these too much for too long can cause consequences that may best be avoided. Normal climate patterns for the season and geographic location the magician is hoping to affect should be considered carefully, as well as cyclical variations in those normal patterns, such as the El Nino cycle or sunspot activity. Working against climatic norms can negatively affect agriculture, animal migration, water supply, and other factors, as well as simply making your magic less likely to succeed. Minor incursions or variations upon these cycles can be made with little impact, but the longer term the projected effect, the stronger the consequences can be.
Other considerations must be taken into account when dealing with weather magic. Most people tend to think of how the weather affects the locality they are present in, limiting their scope to a few hundred miles at most. Storm systems, however, cover thousands of square miles, and adjusting the impact on one area can have effects on areas hundreds or thousands of miles away.
If a magician deflects a storm system for a few days of sun, he must consider where that rain will be deflected to, and what the conditions there are – those few days may mean the difference between a good rain and severe flooding in the next state over. Intensifying storms can also prove problematic, and in a worst case scenario the magician must be prepared to accept responsibility for damage done by such storms. Divination is strongly recommended in order to assess such potential aftereffects to any weather magic operation.
A basic understanding of meteorology and weather systems is not absolutely necessary to weather magic, but can prove invaluable to the magician attempting to manipulate such complex systems, and I strongly encourage anyone seeking to work with weather magic to study that field. Knowing which direction a low pressure system rotates and how air masses interact will undoubtedly aid the magician in his efforts to influence which air masses interact and the results he wishes to achieve from those interactions.
It is important to know what goes in to creating or deflecting a storm, and where those elements can be drawn from or dispersed to. Concepts such as adiabatic cooling, Coriolis effects, and conservation of angular momentum are similarly important in considering weather phenomena.
As weather is a large-scale system that involves staggeringly large amounts of energy, it can prove difficult to influence. The chaotic nature of weather, however, offers a means for the magician to exploit, as a small amount of influence can result in a significant effect as it compounds over time. This is where the dictum to “enchant long” comes into play: planning ahead reduces the effort involved in influencing the weather significantly, as well as improving the chances of success.
The closer to the selected time the magician waits, the more effort required, and the more difficult a release of energy in the weather system is to regulate. The sudden release of energy required to stabilize a weather system in order to turn clouds into sun may require a full day of storms to pass, which may account for many of the troubles those experimenting with weather magic may have encountered. Better to take into account the weather requirements for future dates in advance instead of attempting to change current conditions. (I tend to work in a window of three to four weeks before the target date – in my experience problems tend to arise when working outside this time frame. I welcome observations from others with regard to this.)
Ceremonial magic does offer some operation to influence the weather, including certain talisman designs, which can be found in the Keys of Solomon. Those not experienced in ceremonial magic, however, may seek other means of working weather magic. Those familiar with shamanic techniques may know some alternatives, and meditative states may offer one a way of forming a magical link to weather phenomena.
My strongest successes, however, have come from variants on sigil magic. A statement of intent, perhaps featuring the target date and desired weather conditions, can be rendered into a sigil and charged with relatively little effort. Specificity in describing the desired conditions is suggested, although they don’t need to be described in strictly technical terms. The magician, of course, is encouraged to work with whatever techniques or methods are most familiar and successful.
Weather magic, as with any magic, has a great potential to go wrong and present the magician with undesired or unintended results. The vast scale of weather systems and their chaotic nature can further complicate this problem. Consideration of some of the principles of weather, however, and a more subtle approach to spellwork, can make weather magic a more effective and practical practice.
© 2008, 2009 Chirotus Infinitum
First published on The Wicthes’ Voice January 2009