By Robert Goforth
The drought was working at being legendary, something to be talked about for decades. Everyone agreed that something has to be done, but only Diane had an idea as to what that something was. As a professor of Pagan Magic Studies, and arguably the leading authority on the subject, it was obvious to her that a rain dance was called for. With that decided, she gathered the necessary supplies, composed the appropriate prayer, and contacted some of her graduate students.
The moon was in the correct phase two days later when the group gathered at the practice field. Using a rope and a stake, Diane painted a twenty-foot wide circle on the brown grass, and then, using a compass, marked the cardinal points with torches. The three female students had achieved the proper mental state by the time she finished, the male drummer had donned his blindfold, and they were ready to begin.
The women stood at the compass points and slipped off their robes, with only a couple of nervous giggles, and lit the torches to hold back the gathering darkness. Diane started the opening chant and the other women joined in, and kept it up until the drummer found the rhythm. At the peak of the beat’s cycle, the four stepped into the circle and stood naked before the ancient gods.
They raised their arms and began to dance: simple steps and gestures, in sync with the drum and each other, making slow progress counter-clockwise. After three circuits, they began chanting the prayer, softly at first, with volume that that grew with each pass, until they were shouting at the end of seven more rounds, at which point they fell silent and prostrated themselves on the ground.
They remained still while waiting for a sign of being noticed. After what seemed like hours, the air grew heavy and moist. Soon, winds began to blow, turning into savage gusts. Thunder cracked and the flickering of lightning replaced the glow of the extinguished torches, until, at the peal of the loudest thunder yet, the sky opened up and rain fell! The first drops were quickly soaked up by the parched soil, but the volume of rain rapidly grew into almost solid sheets of warm water that swept around with almost painful impacts on the women’s naked bodies.
After a seemingly endless time, the rain slowed until, with a final flash of lightning and deafening clap of thunder, it stopped. The dancers stood up and surveyed the results of their efforts. The previously dusty circle was now covered ankle-deep in mud, with the last traces of the storm slowly being absorbed into the ground. They all cheered and clapped with joy at the success of their efforts, until it dawned on them that outside the circle everything was still bone dry.
In stunned silence, they dressed and began packing the equipment into the car. The drive back was in continued silence with only a few aborted attempts to speak. As they pulled up to the graduate student dorm, Diane slapped her forehead and exclaimed, “I translated it wrong! It should have been ‘bless these lands’ instead of ‘bless this land!’” Getting control of herself, she shrugged and asked, “Try again next month?”