are supplied to demystify symbolism (and the artwork in this
Click here to return to the online symbolism dictionary.
Rain is nourishment for the earth and is known
as the water of life. Rain takes many forms and can be anything
from a gentle sprinkling and light watering of the earth,
up to a torrid downpour and possible flooding; life giving
on one hand and potentially death dealing on the other. Rain
is a very serious affair, especially wherever water is scarce
and/or crops are growing. A wonderful, (surviving) example
of this seriousness is the world famous Native American rain
dances, created to induce rain. To many city dwellers (or
non-farmers) rain is seen as more of an annoyance than anything
else. As you can guess, the meaning of the symbol (overall)
changes depending on the scarcity and/or need of water/rainfall.
drops can symbolize heaven's tears and the accompanying LIGHTENING
can be seen as heaven's anger (for example, thunderbolts were
the favored weapon of Zeus, etc.). Rain is a symbol for tears,
sorrow, anger, cleansing, renewal, forgiveness and more --
usually on a heavenly, worldly or very large sort of personal
scale. This is not a visual symbol for small sorrows or everyday
events. Slang terms/phrases: "Don't rain on my parade"
(rain as a spoiler of a big event), "Save it for a rainy
day" (save something good to brighten up a gloomy day),
"rain out" (a postponement or cancellation of an
outdoor event because of rain) which leads straight to "rain
check" (a promise for remittance at a later date, usually
because product or time ran out) and "It's raining cats
and dogs" (a very HEAVY downpour). It would probably
be a good bet that most of these phrases came from the group
of people who see rain as more of an annoyance factor than
a life/death matter. The sound of rain, is considered extremely
relaxing. Go figure :)
Posted: April 18, 2004.
links to the (expert) quotes below:
Vollman: The Little Giant Encyclopedia
of Dream Symbols
Biedermann: Dictionary of Symbolism
Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols, p. 361
See Clouds. Longing for deep relaxation. A symbol of
fertility. Also, a longing for mental/intellectual inspiration.
Posted: April 17, 2004.
of Symbolism, p. 277
The saintly abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) likened
rain to the vital energy of the soul, which makes the body
flourish and "keeps it from drying out, as the rain moistens
the earth. For when the rainfall is moderate and not excessive,
the earth brings forth new life. But if it is inordinately
heavy, it destroys the earth and drowns new shoots. From the
soul there emanate certain forces to vitalize the body, just
as rainwater with its moisture vitalizes the earth..."
Hildegard also compared tears and rainfall. "The spiritual
person is so shaken with fear of the Lord as to break out
in tears, just as CLOUDS draw their water from the upper reaches
and pour it forth as rain" thus the gift of repentance
irrigates, fertilizes the soul, "washing sin away."
ancient agriculture societies the fertilizing rain was symbolized
universally by a comb-like figure, with the horizontal stroke
standing for the cloud and the vertical lines coming down
from it standing for the rain itself. The ancient Mexican
rain god Tlaloc was portrayed with teeth like those of a comb
growing out of his upper jaw. The moisture from the sky that
made the earth bring forth fruit was frequently represented
as a flow of semen from the god of the heavens to "MOTHER
Psalm 72 ("of" or "for" Solomon) it is
written that the just and peaceful king "shall come down
like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth"
ancient China the not infrequent droughts were seen as divine
retribution, and bone oracles from the beginning of the historical
era seek to respond to the question of when rain would come.
It was believed that only the proper union of the feminine
principle YIN with the masculine YANG would yield rain. (See
YIN AND YANG; RAINBOW.)
cave paintings reveal that in the civilizations of southeast
Africa rain was symbolized by a SNAKE coming down from heaven
-- a creature perhaps associated with LIGHTENING as well.
In other contexts a gigantic horned snake appears to have
stood for rainwater. And in many ancient cosmologies clouds
were thought of as reservoirs of rainwater, waiting to be
split open by thunderbolts.
April 17, 2004.
Want to know more? Go out and pick up a copy of the book(s) quoted and expand your mind :) These are MY teachers, the people who teach me about symbolism :) I hope the supplied definitions help you understand the art found on this site.