Pagan Studies - Reviews
WEATHER SHAMANISM: HARMONIZING OUR CONNECTION WITH THE ELEMENTS
BY NAN MOSS AND DAVID CORBIN, BEAR & COMPANY, 2008
The weather, as you may have noticed, is getting pretty intense. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, blizzards and ice-storms all have been rocking our communities worldwide over the past few years, and they show no signs of diminishing. With some notable (and ridiculous) exceptions, most people now acknowledge that global climate change is partly responsible for this increase in climate disasters and intense weather events. Those of us who practice a spirituality that calls for authentic relationships with the elements of nature are seeking ways to dance with these changes and find ways to strengthen these relationships. It is more than timely now that Nan Moss and David Corbin present us with Weather Shamanism, a book geared towards the spiritual understanding of weather and inspiring others to communicate with the neglected and intensely powerful spirits of sky, wind, cloud, rain, hail and snow that rule our lives in ways we have forgotten how to understand, or even acknowledge.
Moss and Corbin — leading shamanic practitioners and teachers in the Michael Harner Core Shamanism tradition — have approached this exciting (and surprisingly neglected) field with enthusiasm, respect, and close attention to the power of storytelling. Weather Shamanism is the riveting tale of how the authors received instruction regarding the development of relationships with the weather. There are also plenty of stories, journeys, visions and dreams for the enthusiastic reader to adapt to their own spiritual practice. The authors emphasize the ancient and intimate connections between human beings and the natural world. Their insights into the nature of emotion, power, and relationship in this context are invaluable, and those seeking to dig deeper into authentic, embodied spirituality will find much here to ponder and absorb.
Weather Shamanism is not a how-to book for changing the weather to suit our whims. The authors make a clear distinction between what they term “weather modification,” or the act of controlling the weather through manipulation, coercion, and force, and “weather dancing,” a practice that does not seek to control, dominate, or even change the weather but rather to move with, dance with, and learn from the weather and to understand its intimate, fundamental, spiritual relationship with us. It is this latter practice, and its implications for us all as we struggle to relearn how to live in relationship with the natural world, that is the focus of this book. Yes, somewhere in between, Moss and Corbin point out, is the practice of “weather working,” where the worker moves and dances with the weather while at the same time performing ceremonies and making prayers asking the spirits of the weather to change course or spare those fragile human beings who walk on the earth, leaving the reader to ponder the significant potential that lies in that balance. The real meaning of the work, of course, lies in relationship, and in endeavoring to communicate honestly and respectfully with these powerful spirits of rain, wind, thunder, lightening, fire and ice.
Weather Shamanism offers the reader a fascinating journey through the history of the human relationship with the spirits of weather, and it is also a great starting point for those seeking a deeper relationship with the natural world. Moss and Corbin never deliver any overt instructions, but instead provide the reader with a wealth of ideas and suggestions towards cultivating a personal relationship with the weather through celebratory ritual. Those with a background in shamanic practice will be thrilled to find the path of weather relationship explored so thoroughly, and the seeker will find much to pique her or his interest in working toward a more earth-centered practice. As our climate shifts and our experiences with the weather deepen, I can think of no better time to begin such profound work with these powerful spirits, and no better place to begin than with this much-needed book. Highly recommended.
Ruby Sara is a witch, poet, and essayist. She lives in Chicago with her intrepid spouse and their demon monkey cat, Pinky.