Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Careful What You Pray For...

As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, the difference between prayer and magick is mostly one of terminology. While there are some technical distinctions as well, such as the more complex forms employed by ritual magicians versus the intuitive approach that most systems of prayer tend to take, the basic idea is the same - the mobilization of spiritual forces to produce change in the world. Prayer does generally call upon a deity, but any school of magick that incorporates theurgy into its rites does the same thing, just in a more systematic way.

Back in April, Texas Governor Rick Perry declared a "weekend of prayer" for rain that would ease the ongoing drought in his state. The results of that weekend were not encouraging, though to be fair as a decent weather worker I can say with some confidence that the situation in Texas has been pretty dire all summer in terms of weather patterns for precipitation. If there's no moisture in the air you can't conjure rain, even if you can manage to slide atmospheric fronts around with impunity.

The thing is, that when all the elements are present it's important to be careful. It's all too easy to start something way more powerful and potentially destructive than you intend, and once a big storm gets going it's usually hard to stop until it runs its course. This last weekend at the Roman Catholic Church's world youth festival in Madrid, Spain stifling heat led the event organizers to pray for rain. The results were a lot more impressive than those in Texas - a freak thunderstorm forced the Pope to cut short his speech amidst the rain and lightning.

During the day, firefighters atop fire trucks had sprayed the crowds with water from hoses as pilgrims sought shade from umbrellas, trees, tarps and tents in a bid to stave off the near 40°C heat.

As night fell, a flash downpour drenched the crowd: With lightning in the night sky, the 84-year-old Pope was forced to skip the bulk of his speech and merely deliver brief greetings in a half-dozen languages.

Organisers told the crowd that they had asked for more water during the day when it was so hot and their prayers were answered. "With this rain, the Lord sends us many blessings," Pope Benedict quipped when he resumed his truncated remarks.

However, the storm proved much intense than the organizers likely intended, causing some damage to the venue along with a few injuries in addition to driving the Pope off the stage.

Six people were slightly injured when a tent collapsed. Some makeshift chapels set up on the field's perimeter were also damaged, forcing organisers to announce over loudspeakers that not everyone would be able to receive Communion during the main World Youth Day Mass.

Clearly there's still some magick in the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, but in the future it sounds like they need to be a little more careful how they wield it. Either that, or God's just less than happy with the current leadership and wanted to send them a message.

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