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THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR SYMBOLISM IN LIGHTNING AND STORMS

Content of the article: "THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL FOR SYMBOLISM IN LIGHTNING AND STORMS"

okay so like i'm a senior in high school and yes I knew (some of) the science behind thunderstorms and lightning (generally speaking) but my god. As a DM currently working on a homebrew campaign setting in which the symbolism and the superimposition of spiritual, magical, and often wholly conceptual ideas and meanings onto the knowledge gathered about how natural elements work.

In this homebrew setting, any caster, though most often sorcerers, warlocks, clerics, and druids, who reflects inward and studies themself and the complex inner workings of the sentient psyche and the innate magic in all living things (sometimes called a soul in sentient creatures), may learn to manipulate certain natural elements that are often symbolized as various aspects of sentient nature. Through this symbolism and inward reflected representation of the natural world, not only do many casters grow their ability to manipulate the natural world, acting as a living and sentient filter through which natural wild magic may flow without restraint, but often it is found that a caster who has recognized a true connection and a magical alignment with the forces of nature may have adopted aspects of those forces of nature on the psychological and philosophical front as well.

Example:

Fire is recognized as the symbol of many things, chief among them is Artistry, Passion, and Emotion. Those who reflect inward and find their feelings often overwhelm them, or that an unyielding passion/desire (directed towards any given subject in the world) rages in their heart may find comfort in the light and warmth of the Soulfire Hearth, an philosophy and ideology that embraces the raw and often explosive emotional manifestations that students and masters of flame alike are prone to, while simultaneously preaching warmth, compassion, empathy, and control through utilization of one's most powerful emotions (most commonly by way of Artistry, Music, or any other sort of creative expression).

"Just as one may light their torch by the heat of a burning building they once called home, so too may one find warmth in the cold, and light in the darkness, by the heat of their own flame or that of another. May that torch guide your path through the dark of night, and May a flame guide your path through the fog of life" – A core ideal held by those who follow the tenets of the Soulfire Hearth

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…All this being said, Ive been refreshing my basic high school knowledge of lightning science and was shocked (excuse the pun) to find that the Science behind thunderstorms and the various types of lightning provide a ridiculous amount of potential for a philosophy/ideology

My core idea is that Lightning is the element of Intent. It is focused, direct, and logical. Lightning symbolizes process of manifesting intent (the creation of electric field between the storm and the ground), and the execution of a thought or action (the actual striking of lightning within or outside of the storm).

The creation of thunderstorms could very easily be symbolized as the process of logical and rational thought, with the separation of charges representing emotion/feeling and logic/critical thinking respectively.

For context here is a basic breakdown of what i will from here on out will be referring to as StormScienceTM (skip ahead if you know whats up with StormScienceTM):

  • When a thunderstorm develops, electrical charges within the cloud separate, and an electric field is produced between the top of the cloud and the base. The electric field within the storm is not the only one that develops. Below the negatively charged storm base, positive charge begins to pool within the surface of the earth.
  • A cloud to ground lightning strike begins as an invisible channel of electrically charged air moving from the cloud toward the ground. When one channel nears an object on the ground, a powerful surge of electricity from the ground moves upward to the clouds and produces the visible lightning strike. This type of lightning is called negative lightning because negative charges are moving from the cloud to the ground.
    • This positive charge will shadow the storm wherever it goes, and is responsible for cloud-to-ground lightning. However, the electric field within the storm is much stronger than the one between the storm base and the earth's surface, so most lightning (~75-80%) occurs within the storm cloud itself.
  • Sometimes, lightning will come from the upper parts or near the top of the storm, where the positively charged particles are located. These lightning bolts are called positive lightning because positive charges are moving from the cloud to the ground. Although not as common as negative lightning, the positive lightning is much more dangerous because its charge can be ten times greater than a negative lightning strike.
    • Also, many positive lightning strikes occur near the edge of the cloud, sometimes as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall!
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And here are a few different types of lightning that casters that have studied the philosophical ideals symbolized by lightning and thunderstorms may utilize in their spellwork:

  • Intra-Cloud: The most common type of lightning. It happens completely inside the cloud, jumping between different charge regions in the cloud. Intra-cloud lightning is sometimes called sheet lightning because it lights up the sky with a 'sheet' of light.
    • Representative of the critical thinking or possibly the problem solving cerebral processes?
    • perhaps something to do with some sort of magical enhancement of perception flavored as "lightning quick thoughts" as the metaphorical lightning represents interior thoughts and Neurons firing off?
  • Cloud to Cloud: Lightning that occurs between two or more separate clouds.
    • Relating to the relationships that individuals who study this element make with other people??
    • this one was hard
  • Cloud to Ground: Lightning that occurs between the cloud and the ground.
    • Obviously the more physical aspect but still has potential for symbolism
    • more closely related to the school of evocation
  • Cloud to Air: Lightning that occurs when the air around a positively charged cloud top reaches out to the negatively charged air around it.
    • No clue
  • Bolt from the blue: A positive lightning bolt which originates within the updraft of the storm, typically 2/3rds of the way up, travels horizontally for many miles, then strikes the ground.
    • THIS IS SO COOL THAT MY MIND WAS OVERLOADED WITH POSSIBILITIES AND THEN I BLANKED
  • Anvil Lightning: A positive lightning bolt which develops in the anvil, or top of the thunderstorm cloud, and travels generally straight down to strike the ground.
    • My first thought was that these types of strikes symbolize a direct, logic driven analysis of a given situation that produces the most direct, rational, hardest hitting resolution to a given conflict that is fully divorced of emotional bias and relies solely on empirical evidence and logical reasoning.
    • this could be so many other things though…
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and then just some quick lightning facts:

  • Lightning causes an average of 80 deaths and 300 injuries each year. – The energy from one lightning flash could light a 100 watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
  • Only about 10% of people that are struck are actually killed. 90% survive, but nearly 25% of these survivors suffer long term psychological or physiological trauma.
  • Lightning can strike more than 10 miles away from any rainfall. More than 50% of lightning deaths occur AFTER the storm has passed

PLEASE feel free to drop some more ideas or opinions on the subject, Im at a bit of an impasse and would love the external input. Thanks!!

Source: reddit.com

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