Water is everywhere; our Earth is more than 70 percent water. It rolls, salt-filled, in our vast oceans. It hangs suspended in the clouds above us. According to Chinese medicine, Water is the element of Fear and Winter. You've never felt fear until you see a tidal wave rise ninety feet into the air, ready to crash down on your house and obliterate your hometown. Or, until you realize floodwaters will break the fragile levees that stand between) 'our family and destruction. Or, closer to home in this dry year, we have felt afraid knowing that for some reason, the weather was withholding its water. This summer and fall, the familiar sound of rain falling was all too rare; for months, clouds visited our area, unwilling to give their gift of water, and the land turned to dust. Wells that had provided for long showers and endless green "lawns for years ran dry. What to do? The waters of the world, in their excess and their deficiency, have enormous power.
Our area has been experiencing the worst drought in 100 years (1) in this part of the world. Without drought, would we even give rain a second thought? Annoyed, we curse its marring of our clothes, our "hairstyles, and our plans for the day. We call a rainy day "nasty," "gloomy," and just generally "bad weather." Since we don't like rain, let's get rid of it and look on the sunny side.
Just a few hundred years ago, give or take, in all of the world's cultures, water from the sky was given the highest honor. When our ancestors lived in tipis, yurts, or structures made from mud and branches, when they had no grocery stores but instead depended on the balance of rain, snow and sunlight to provide the right conditions for their precious food to grow, they prayed for rain. Weather workers were people born into and trained into the traditions of calling the rain during drought and breaking up clouds if rain was too abundant. Some nations had their rain dances, and some sang songs to the sky.
A handful of these traditions are still "alive today. In Mexico, as in many lands, there are two seasons: a rainy one and a dry one. In the Nahua/Aztec tradition of that land, elaborate fiestas are thrown in honor of the rain at the beginning and end of the rainy season, without which the people's crops would not grow. Groaning tables are "laid with offerings to the sky--huge, succulent platters of meat and baskets overflowing with bread; mouthwatering fruit, tobacco and tequila, flagrant bouquets of colorful...