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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Creating Thunder: The Western Rain-Making Process


This paper examines thunder, and its association with native Californian rain-making traditions. Although the discussion considers all of native California, it is focused primarily on the northern part of the state. Two related hypotheses are advanced herein. First, it is proposed that native Californian rain-makers accomplished their tasks by ritually creating one or more aspects of the storm (i.e., thunder, cloud, wind, or rain). Second, it is proposed that some pitted boulders represent percussive implements used by shamans to achieve altered states of consciousness, a condition necessitated by their rain-making activities. The ethnographic and archaeological data leading to these hypotheses suggest the "Western Rain-Making Process" described in this paper.

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