Rain is a natural process that holds many different emotions and forms the basis of many legends, its main symbolic meanings are rebirth, sadness or cleansing. So is there really something romantic about it?
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people whose religion was dominated by rituals and belief in connection with nature. These beliefs were reflected in the various symbols and signs they used to communicate their experience and ideas from generation to generation, one of which was the Rain symbol.
To a tribe of Native Americans, Aborigines or Massai, rain was a powerful symbol as water in every form is one of the most vital elements for the sustenance of life. Rain provided water to nourish humans, animals and crops. Therefore, in cultures where not much rain existed (America, Australia, Africa) it symbolized life and re-birth. Rain was a literal joy, as the tribe would have fresh water to drink, their animals likewise and the crops would have chance to grow, giving them food. The tribes would therefore, rejoice at the rain, giving it both symbolic and literal life-giving meaning. The meaning of the rain clouds was a magical symbol to promote good prospects in the future.
Rain has been associated with renewal, fertility and change in other countries too. The lush islands of Japan receive abundant rainfall throughout the year, especially in early summer (tsuyu) and during typhoon storms of autumn. Tsuyu brings water needed to flood rice fields. Japanese consider the coming of tsuyu vitally important to the well-being of the country, and traditionally conducted rain-making rituals that include prayers, religious offerings to the gods, and special dances.
In Japan’s society the importance of rain resulted in rich poetic lexicon of rain related vocabulary: harusame, “the soft rain of spring”; haku’u,” the white rain”; kirisame, “misty rain”; shigure, “the cold rain of late autumn or winter”, etc. From the mid-19th century, the landscape print artists attempted to capture these sentiments in their compositions, and developed a variety of specialized techniques for depicting different types of rain.
Japanese Ukiyo e
Many people would associate rain with tears and sadness.
Metaphorically, rain can symbolize purging. It’s not uncommon in movies that after performing a sin or recognizing one, the character walks moodily through pounding rain.
However, rain can also symbolize cleansing. Walks through the rain are not medically advised, but often it seems that walking through rain when one is sad or pensive can help clear one’s mind. You feel a literal welcoming cooling on your body, but also a metaphorical washing away of problems, as well as a feeling of hitting rock bottom, a feeling which can inspire people to rise up again. This once again, re-confirms the symbolic meaning of re-birth in rain.
To dream that you are watching the rain from a window indicates that spiritual ideas and insights are being brought to your awareness.
The consistent, drum-beat pattern of falling raindrops has a very calming and relaxing effect, stimulating people to contemplate, dream and reflect. Some writers and artists are believed to create their best works when it’s raining.
Rain on San-Marco by Azat Galimo
Rainy streetscapes by Leonid Afremov
So why does the rain still make us feel so romantic and strange up today? Maybe it’s the fact that we are unnatural spectators of it, from inside our homes, and it is a reminder that we have the power to live our whole lives like this, if we choose. It’s not the smell of fertile ground kicked up by raindrops, or the slick leaves, or the way we must amplify our voices to be heard over this larger presence. It’s the power of the rooftop that makes us want to make love under it…