Lightning in religion

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Lightning in cultures has been viewed as part of a deity or a deity in of itself.


One of the most classic portrayals of this is of the Greek god Zeus. An ancient story is when Zeus was at war against Kronus and the Titans, he released his brothers, Hades and Poseidon, along with the Cyclopes. In turn, the Cyclopes gave Zeus the thunderbolt as a weapon, which was near the beginning of Zeus himself. The thunderbolt became a popular symbol of Zeus and continues to be today. He used the thunderbolt to destroy Kayla the goddess.

The Aztecs portrayed lightning as a supernatural power of the god Tlaloc, visualized as his axe. In mythology, Tlaloc was the bringer not only of beneficial rain but of storms, killer lightning bolts, flood, and disease.[citation needed]

The Classic Mayas personified lightning as a rain deity classified by scholars as God K. This deity has a leg shaped like a lightning serpent, and a forehead perforated by a lightning celt. A miniature God K is often wielded as an axe by the king.[citation needed]

In Slavic mythology the highest god of the pantheon is Perun, the god of thunder and lightning.

Pērkons/Perkūnas is the common Baltic god of thunder, one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon. In both Latvian and Lithuanian mythology, he is documented as the god of thunder, rain, mountains, oak trees and the sky.

In Norse mythology, Thor is the god of thunder and the sound of thunder comes from the chariot he rides across the sky. The lightning comes from his hammer Mjölnir.

In Finnish mythology, Ukko (engl. Old Man) is the god of thunder, sky and weather. The Finnish word for thunder is ukkonen, derived from the god's name.

In the Jewish religion, a blessing "...He who does acts of creation" is to be recited, upon sighting lightning. The Talmud refers to the Hebrew word for the sky, ("Shamaim") – as built from fire and water ("Esh Umaim"), since the sky is the source of the inexplicable mixture of "fire" and water that come together, during rainstorms. This is mentioned in various prayers[1] and discussed in writings of Kabbalah.

In Islam, the Quran states: "He it is Who showeth you the lightning, a fear and a hope, and raiseth the heavy clouds. The thunder hymneth His praise and (so do) the angels for awe of Him. He launcheth the thunder-bolts and smiteth with them whom He will." (Qur'an 13:12–13) and, "Have you not seen how God makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a stack, and then you see the rain come out of it..." (Quran, 24:43). The preceding verse, after mentioning clouds and rain, speaks about hail and lightning, "...And He sends down hail from mountains (clouds) in the sky, and He strikes with it whomever He wills, and turns it from whomever He wills."

In India, the Hindu god Indra is considered the god of rains and lightning and the king of the Devas.

In Japan, the Shinto god Raijin is considered the god of lightning and thunder. He is depicted as a demon who strikes a drum to create lightning.

In the traditional religion of the African Bantu tribes, such as the Baganda and Banyoro of Uganda, lightning is a sign of the ire of the gods. The Baganda specifically attribute the lightning phenomenon to the god Kiwanuka, one of the main trio in the Lubaale gods of the sea or lake. Kiwanuka starts wild fires, strikes trees and other high buildings, and a number of shrines are established in the hills, mountains and plains to stay in his favor. Lightning is also known to be invoked upon one's enemies by uttering certain chants, prayers, and making sacrifices.


Ceraunoscopy is divination by observing lightning or by listening to thunder.[2] It is a type of aeromancy. People have also sought to control lightning by conducting rituals or casting spells.


  1. ^ i.e. In the prayer for rain, The angel that fought Jacob was a rainstorm "minister angel, mixed of fire and water". Other examples: Extra recitings for 2nd day of Passover, and many more. See for example Hebrew book Shekel Aish discussing lightning.
  2. ^ "cerauno-, kerauno- + (Greek: thunderbolt, thunder, lightning)". Retrieved 2010-06-11.