Saturday night we offered to Thunder.

Together we sang, danced, and prayed that He be merciful to our gathering.

Sunday night the big storm hit.

It was terrifying. The first peal of Thunder woke me from a sound sleep. Seconds later the first drops pelted down, hard and heavy as hail. Moments later, the winds (gusting at 70 miles per hour) bowed in the front of my tent until it touched me where I lay on my cot.

I leapt up and stood, buck naked, with my back pressed against the front of the tent to support it. For nearly 45 minutes I stood holding on, shivering, to the crossing of the poles at the top of the tent, while the storm crashed and roared all around me.

At Summerland Spirit fest they know how to take care of people. Within hours of storm's end, everyone was set up to sleep warm and dry. If you'd told me that day that I'd sleep that night like the proverbial, doubled up in the back seat of my VW, I'd have laughed out loud at you.

During clean-up next day, I heard lots of good-humored commentary on the Thunder offering I'd led on Saturday night, including some very good theological and liturgical observations. (What's the good of offering to Thunder and neglecting the Winds, his constant companions?)

As a liturgist, I rest on the famous Witch Doctor Clause: If it hadn't been for my powerful juju, it would have been a much worse volcanic eruption.

Watching us collectively process a frightening and dangerous experience with reference to ritual was both interesting and instructive. This, in fact, is how pagans do things; this is how we've always done things. The assumption that what we do is connected to what goes on in the world around us is a deeply pagan mode of thought. Indeed, I was proud of my people that day.

Then the reports started coming in of how the storm had treated the surrounding areas. Power out, trees down, widespread property damage.

We had some tents down—a few were completely destroyed—and a few minor injuries. Apart from the discomfort, inconvenience, and added work of drying out the next day, the pagans got off easy.

So, as it turns out, He was merciful after all.

The original plan had been to pour out an entire bottle of Jamieson at the offering. (Thunder loves liquor.) By happenstance, the whiskey sat on the shelf while I grabbed a bottle of screw-top plonk instead, on the principle that an unworthy offering is better than no offering at all.

A humble offering, sincerely given, the gods do not despise.

On the other hand, it never pays to be stingy with the gods.

Next time, the Jamie for sure.