Archive for October 13th, 2009

Arriving in a southern city in the U.S., I get off the plane, get my luggage, and head out to the area for hotel shuttle pickups. It starts to rain.

Within a few minutes, the shuttle arrives and off we go. The rain gets harder and the downpour beats on the taxi windows with that very familiar rapid tapping. It’s a wonderful moment and I unwind and relax.

What is it about rain that speaks so deeply to us? It is the very sound of tranquility and assurance.

As I listen, the hard falling rain  reminds me of the sound of the roar of the sea as waves crest and break on the beach; that sound of water rushing over sand as it advances and then recedes. There is something primordial in our experience of rain in particular, and water in general; a recollection emerging from “psychogenetic” memory. After all, we began life in the womb supported by amniotic fluid.

Wherever there is water, there is life, and so we seek it out elsewhere in our solar system as a precursor for life.  Most recently, our attempt to test for water on the moon by flying through the plume caused by crashing a spacecraft into the lunar south polar surface is case in point. It is the sound of origins; what Freud called the “oceanic feeling.”

Water figures prominently in religious ritual. In Catholicism, holy water accompanies signing oneself on entering a church. It is the essential element of baptism signifying new life in Christ.

In Jewish ritual, you wash your hands before eating bread, wash the dead before burial, and put a Cup of Miriam on the Passover Seder table, and immerse in a ritual bath before sacred occasions.

In Hinduism, water is closely linked to purification and the water of rivers is particularly sacred ( the Ganges chief among them). In Islam, ritual purification with water is essential preparation before all religious duties, especially worship.

In Ancient Greece, stories of water nymphs described them as bound to bodies of water and ascribed enduring beauty to them. They were sensual maidens and unforgettably striking. In this context, nymphs embody the character of eternal youth (the puer aeternus) and the sexual energy that peaks in youth. The fountain of youth is yet another mythic reminder of the powers of water to restore youthful vigor.

The sound of rain comforts at many levels. It reminds us of the state of entrance into our incarnate state after conception, the primordial connectedness to the eternal youthful force of the great Birther, a reminder of home, an archetypal call to health, rejuvenation, and the fantasies of childhood. Rain recalls the eternal wellspring of the unconscious that transcends the person and exists as the foundation on which our sensory world rests.

On arriving at my hotel, I gave the cab driver an especially nice tip. After all, he presided over all this, and it’s right to honor the synchronicities.

When next you are looking out at rain, consider the way it calls to you and raises sense and deep existential memory.


© Brother Anthony Thomas and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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