The impact of Isaias cut across a wide span, from the tropics all the way up to New England. First dumping large amounts of rain on Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, and then high wind damage and storm surge flooding that affected the same parts of the Bahamas that were severely impacted by hurricane Dorian in 2019, before continuing north.
While Isaias had little impact on the Florida and Georgia coasts, the states to the north were not so lucky. Major flooding, reports of tornadoes and hail, and other storm damage was reported from where it made landfall in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina all the way up through the northeastern U.S. Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm, it still continued to have wind gusts between 60 and 70 mph, lashing North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey and causing major flooding in New York City and on up into New England.
Hurricane season began on June 1, 2020, and will end on November 30, 2020. As we are in the midst of hurricane season, TWH reached out to several Pagans who work weather-inclined magic to learn about how they work with storms.
“Hurricanes spin widdershins in the northern hemisphere, so they are the Crones of our weather,” says Opal Luna, a Crone priestess of Minerva and Fiber Magickian. “The hurricane, like the Crone, brings life through destruction. She stirs up the seeds and pollen, cleans the air and dumps freshwater where needed. It falls on us to be respectful, to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) track storms and have an extensive list of preparations that include everything from what supplies to have on hand, to insurances checklists, to evacuation plans and everything in between.
In addition to the magical preparations, all of the practitioners TWH spoke with recommend following weather information and the advice of their local and regional weather experts and emergency management, as part of their preparations.
In Northeast Florida, Marla, a Georgian Elder, strengthens the wards around her property with a ring of salt and cornmeal around the entire property. At the quarters, she calls upon deity and draws a pentagram. She has placed a knife at the southeast section of her property to cut the path around the property, as this is generally the direction from which storms approach.
“At the beginning of the season, I do general work over my collected supplies, go bag, etc. to increase effectiveness,” a modern Hoodoo practitioner in Tampa Bay (who requested not to be identified by name) told us. “My focus is to keep the supplies in good shape/working condition and to make sure they are calming if I need to use them.” They also leave out small flashlights around Midsummer to be charmed by the sun all day, as well as inspect both their physical boundaries and magickal boundaries by walking their property.
Opal Luna agrees with getting a head start on gathering supplies, citing camping experience at many Pagan festivals as providing guidance for what would be needed for her hurricane supplies. She checks batteries, flashlights, and propane tanks at the start of the season to be prepared, and also puts aside a container that is filled with non-perishable food in case of an emergency.
“We fill the items with calm energy as we fill the container proactively, not waiting until there’s a panic,” Opal Luna explained.
The CUUPS chapter of Ft. Lauderdale has been holding a ritual for protection during hurricane season since 2016. During this ritual, they bring food and water which are blessed during the rite. These items are then donated to Netlife4Families in the name of their host UU congregation. The inspiration for their 2020 ritual can be watched online.
On Florida’s west coast, Dona Pantera does a mental check-list while also preparing her magical altar. Pantera is a nurse, Strega, and Faery Seer, so her hurricane season prep includes both checking on her first aid gear as well as making offerings to Neptune and Salacia.
“I’ll make sure my Salacia bowl is set up, prepared, tended, and that my magical supplies — like my Tempest incense — are ready for when there’s a storm approaching,” Dona Pantera said.
Many of the practitioners TWH spoke to shared that they begin the season with the creation of hurricane protection candles, as well as incense offerings to their storm gods. These are blessed with calming and protection energies, and are ready to be put into use when a named storm approaches.
Preparing for Hurricane Season involves not just one’s own house and its occupants, but often includes others that are cared about. The modern Hoodoo practitioner says they will go to the homes of those they care for and walk their properties. “For some people, I walk the boundaries of their property and put a general protection barrier in place. For others, as a ‘Happy Hurricane Season’ treat, I draw out sigils or make amulets they can hang up on their doors and gift these on June 1.”
Martha Kirby Capo, a Hekatean Witch, says she works through the year to form relationships with the guardian trees on her property. Additionally, she has placed what are essentially witching rods, inverted so the Y points upwards, at the edge of her property. She says this “feels like an additional layer of protection.”
Capo also draws sigils using moon water on the doors and windows while chanting a simple protection spell, which is amended to name the specific storm threat as it approaches.
Next week, TWH will explore how these practitioners work through the storm and the aftermath.