Atmospheric Phenomena


Did people in ancient times really believe lightning came from the gods?

The power of lightning has impressed cultures for millennia. People, indeed, felt that it was a divine event and that lightning held mystical powers. The Romans and Greeks viewed them as spears, which were forged by the god Hephaestus (Vulcan, in Roman mythology) and then wielded by Zeus (or Jupiter, in Rome). Norse mythology gives the chief god, Odin, a spear made of lightning that he names Gungnir. And the Hindus also gave their god of war (and weather!), Indra, a thunderbolt weapon. Sometimes, lightning was used as a symbol in these cultures. The Mayans used a triple lightning symbol to represent Huracan, a god of creation who controlled the powers of wind, fire, and storms. There was also a belief, interestingly held by the Mayans, the Romans, and in Hindi culture, that mushrooms would grow in places where lightning struck.


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