12 Symbolic Meanings of Storms in the Bible, Myth & Dreams

Storm Symbolism in Religion, Mythology & History

Storms are powerful atmospheric disturbances that produce rain, hail, or snow, and are frequently accompanied by high winds, thunder, and lighting.

A storm is a powerful weather event that exceeds human capacity and authority to control, making it a perfect metaphor to represent unexpected events that can transform or destroy people’s lives.

Around the world and across history, people have always believed that storms are holy, a way for the heavens to manifest their regenerative and creative force on earth.

1. Storms & storm gods were symbols of fertility & renewal

Storm gods who threw lightning bolts were personifications of nature that could cause chaos and violent acts of destruction. However, the same gods were in charge of bringing rain, which was essential to fertilize life.

The legend of the storm that created the world (or creative interactions between the Elements) is widespread:

Thor is the thunder and storm god among the Nordic peoples; Bel in Assyrio-Babylonian mythology; Donar in Germanic mythology; Zeus in Greek mythology; Perun in Slavic mythology; and so on.

Sacredness permeates the storm, as does everything that originates in or falls from the heavens.

Many cultures believe that the storm gods were descended from or related to the original creator sky-gods and that they married the Great Mother to fertilize the earth with rain and maintain cosmic order.

These storm gods were saviors, healers, or gods of vegetation, and they would die and be reborn with the start of each agricultural year.

For this reason, storm gods were frequently connected with mythical animals like the bull and the ram, who embodied such dynamic energies.

Another widely held myth is that during a storm, the passionate wind god pursues his wife.

The ancient Britons believed storms were caused by the death of a great soul, since his passing disturbed the environment.

2. Storms are symbols of creation and destruction

In most regions of the world, the storm was connected with divine wrath or retribution, but it was also a sign of creative force and fertility.

This was the reason why the temple dedicated to the great Mesopotamian storm-god Hadad was called the “house of abundance.”

Most storm gods were portrayed carrying axes, hammers, or thunderbolts, tools that were both creative and destructive since they could be used both to destroy and build.

Storms also spark creative energies. Life itself was created in a cosmic cataclysm beyond the capacity of language to explain. The glorious beginnings and cataclysmic endings of historical epochs—revolutions, new governments, and even the end of the world and the New Jerusalem—are believed to have been caused by storms of some kind.

Storm-gods—the Assyro-Babylonian Bel, the Ancient Greek Zeus (Jupiter), the Germanic Donar, the Norse Thor, and the Hindu Agni and Indra—created and ordered the cosmos. Storms are also heralds of fertile rain, and so are beneficial figures.

Storm Symbolism in Literature & Art

3. Storms are artistic symbols for trauma and pain

Storms were a favorite motif of European Romanticism as metaphors for the human desire for a life above the ordinary, even if it was tortured, stormy, and swept by the winds of love.

Storms in literature frequently represent a character’s inner turmoil, anguish, and passion.

When King Lear’s two oldest daughters betray him, his angry cries mix with the sounds of a raging storm.

Wild storms in Wuthering Heights represent the turbulent mood of passionate desire between Heathcliff and Cathy.

When a tornado vortex transports Dorothy to the enchanted Land of Oz, her world is flipped upside down.

The love of storms implies a desire to live at a high level of intensity and to escape the mundane. At its core, it may be a desire to be subjected to God’s wrath.

Storms in dreams and psychology

4. A storm symbolizes conflict is imminent

The storm represents psychological pain that builds up to a breaking point or an explosion of energies as personal relationships crumble. Such tempests can devastate or flood a person’s internal psychological world, or they might rejuvenate and purify it.

The darkening storm clouds of potential consequences can be a sign of open conflict or even war in the mind, which can show up as a storm of chaos outside. In a similar way, we talk about the distant thunder of war machines and the gusting winds of change.

Storms represent emotional outbursts, but because storms frequently blow out during a dream, they also suggest that your current emotional crisis will pass.

5. Storms symbolize creativity and new ideas

A dream storm may also signify a brainstorming session for new ideas or the release of creativity, especially if lightning bolts are involved.

Lightning bolts might indicate flashes of genius, but they could also signify fury coming from an authoritative person (bolts of lightning were connected with the gods’ anger, according to ancient cultures).

Lightning strikes may bring both cataclysmic changes in destiny and enlightening discoveries. Dry stretches of zero creativity and cold emotions are broken by libidinal breakthroughs, which come like a downpour of fertile rain or powerful storms.

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a storm represents the exhausted wrath of elemental spirits who have upset the established order of the world.

6. Storms can symbolize an angry authority figure

Thunder in a dream might indicate an opponent you want to take on in the real world, or it can point to an element of your own personality that causes you anxiety.

If this is the case, the thunder might be your own conscience or an authority figure such as a parent, teacher, or supervisor at work.

Try to figure out what the thunder wants to communicate since thunder and lightning are powerful psychological symbols, and its advice may be just as powerful.

7. The storm can be concern for yourself or someone else

Finally, did you have to worry about someone else’s safety during the storm, or were you directly affected by it?

If you were concerned about someone else, it is possible that you are concerned about the effects of your actions on other people.

If your house or something else was in danger because of the storm, you should look at what was damaged to figure out what the dream means.

A storm or tornado that destroys homes or throws cars into the air could be a sign of how fragile your relationships, finances, or even your own sense of safety are.

8. Hail storms suggest real pain you have experienced

Hailstorms are frequently a signal of unhappiness or a forewarning of family conflicts or financial losses.

When anxieties and troubles “fall like a hailstorm,” it’s time to let go of the situation or person or to seek shelter (or safety or assistance) from others.

Storm symbolism & meaning in the Bible and Christianity

9. Storms in Old Testament were manifestations of God’s power

The storm represents a visible manifestation of God and of His immense and almighty power.

The storm might be a sign of a revelation, but it can also be a sign of God’s anger or, in some cases, his judgment.

Jehovah confronts mankind in the Old Testament and challenges it to equal his deeds:

“Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?”

(Job 38: 16-17). 

God thus provides humanity a lesson in humility while also confirming his unrivaled might. The image of the storm is thus crucial to prove God’s divinity.

The storm, which invokes images of God’s splendor and strength, may also pacify the adversaries of God’s people and guarantee that peace survives, as Psalm 29 says:

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thundereth [. . .] The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness [. . .] The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.’ 

10. Hailstorms in Old Testament represent invasions & war

A hailstorm is a sign that an enemy is coming to attack and take over, especially if it comes from the north, where hail is usually frozen.

We see examples of this prophetic metaphor in Isaiah 28:

“Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which, as a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.” 

Also in Isaiah 30:

“And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hail-stones.” 

According to Achmetes, if one dreams that hail falls on a location, the dreamer should expect a complete and unexpected invasion by the enemy. But if he has a dream that hail destroys fields of wheat or barley, the dream symbolizes that many people will die there in a war that is soon to come.

11. Jesus proved His godhood by controlling storms

The hills that surround the Sea of Galilee cause its surface to be prone to sudden and powerful storms; however, these storms rarely last more than a day or two.

We now understand that these storms frequently form when an east wind blows chilly air across the heated air rising from the lake. This abrupt transition resulted in unexpectedly violent storms (see Matthew 8:24), which might harm those in boats.

While the disciples were terrified of the wind and the waves, Jesus was always confident that his power was stronger than any evil in the sea. Jesus acted to display his mastery over the water and its devastating force. 

He walked across the turbulent waves (Matthew 14:22–33; Mark 6:47–50; John 6:16–20). 

He tamed the sea’s storms (Matthew 8:23–27; Mark 4:35–41; Luke 8:22–25). 

He also gave one of his followers the power to walk on water (Matthew 14:28–32).

Peter’s cry of “Lord, save me!” as he sank into the sea thus gains profound meaning since the sea was a manifestation of God’s own power (Matthew 14:30).

The apostles’ reaction was powerful. They were both impressed and afraid by Jesus’ power (Matthew 14:33; Mark 6:51). They knew that his power extended beyond mere dominion over the elements of nature. The Abyss is under God’s power. The pacifying of the storm inspired not just awe at God’s strength within Jesus, but also the knowledge that he was God. 

Jesus thus used the mighty sea and everything it represented to demonstrate His godhood and establish His authority.


Resources:

  • A dictionary of symbols by Cirlot, Juan Eduardo
  • A dictionary of symbols by Chevalier, Jean
  • Dictionary of symbols by Chetwynd, Tom
  • A dictionary of dream symbols : with an introduction to dream psychology by Ackroyd, Eric
  • Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western artby Hall, James
  • Dictionary of symbols and imagery by Vries, Ad de
  • Symbolism : a comprehensive dictionary by Olderr, Steven
  • Dictionary of mythology, folklore and symbols by Jobes, Gertrude
  • The complete dictionary of symbols by Tresidder, Jack
  • The book of symbols : reflections on archetypal images by Ami Ronnberg & Kathleen Martin
  • Man, Myth & Magic by Richard Cavendish

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