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Brains in the Sky: A Weather Folklore

Brains in the Sky: A Weather Folklore

Long before modern science began to understand the processes that create our weather, people made up their own explanations. Many of these accounts were fantastic in nature, with evil or benevolent gods, monsters, and spirits controlling the elements. In this series, we’ll explore some of these ancient myths and share the science behind them. Weather + mythology = weather-ology!

It can be a lot of fun to lie on your back, look up at the clouds and pick out interesting shapes. Early humans must have been truly puzzled by what, exactly, those puffy, wispy blobs were so high up there in the sky.

Different cultures have had many different stories about the origin and purpose of clouds. Many saw them as the domain for gods, spirits, or dragons, and believed they served as a means of divine communication.

The ancient Norse had one of the more interesting, and graphic, myths to explain the origin of clouds. They believed the heavens and earth were formed from the body of a great giant named Ymir. The soil, they said, was his flesh, the oceans and rivers were his blood, rocks and mountains were his bones, and the trees were his hair. All of this lay beneath the dome of the sky, formed from Ymir’s massive skull. And the clouds? They were the giant’s brains, strewn across the inside of his skull.

Today, of course, we know that those fluffy shapes aren’t a giant’s brains, but aggregations of water vapor. The air contains countless microscopic water molecules formed when water — from lakes, rives, oceans, ponds, etc. — evaporates into the air. These molecules rise into the sky, where they eventually cool and condense into droplets. The droplets clump together as clouds. When the droplets become heavy enough, they fall as rain, replenishing bodies of water below so that the entire cycle can start over again.

Knowing that it’s the clouds, themselves, that fall on us when it rains, aren’t you glad they aren’t made of brains?

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  • Naince says:

    It matters not what science says….it’s God’s domain and He creates as He sees fit. The weather is His to do with as He sees fit. I’m not into “mother earth” or “mother nature” or “father time” or anything else that is not mentioned in Gods Word. If it’s in there then I believe in it. If it’s not then I don’t.

  • Jhulan says:

    The oldest scientific Proven religous journals say that Mother earth is a living organism:
    The Dirt her skin
    The Water her blood
    The Rocks her bones
    The Plants her Hair
    She gives birth after being seminated by Father Sky

  • Andy says:

    I like the old (Ancient) explanitions better. Cold & Hard Science leaves me with NO imagination or childhood memories. Sorry, but Scientific Cold Heartless explainations don’t make it. Mechanics of a system is one thing, but the enjoyment of the experience is what being alive makes us human. I guess, using Science to take away being alive and human is wrong. Use Science to help explaine but not to destroy “LIFE”. Life is a Miracle with abosoutly NO explaination!

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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