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Whistle and rain (train or bird)

Posted by ESC on June 20, 2004

In Reply to: Whistle and rain (train or bird) posted by Magnus on June 20, 2004

: I have found several sayings related to whistle and rain, I wonder if anybody can throw any light on the origin of these sayings

: - When parrots whistle, expect rain
: - The hooting of the owl brings rain
: - Whistle brings rain they say
: (on this one, is it people whistling or a train?)

Witches can "whistle up" bad weather, some believe. I found several superstitions about rain and bird calls also.

If the cock crows going to bed,
He wakens with a watery head.

Cockcrow before two in the morning
Of two days wet it is a warning.

Some say that a sudden drop of atmospheric pressure or an increase in humidity will waken a rooster into crowing.
From Folklore of American Weather" by Eric Sloane, Connecticut, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1963).

The cooing of the rain-crow is a sure sign of rain.

Whistling at the table,
Singing in bed,
The Devil will get you
Before you are dead.
From "Black Cats, Hoot Owls & Water Witches: Beliefs, Superstitions and Sayings from Texas" by Kenneth W. Davis and Everett Gillis (University of North Texas Press, Denton, 1989).

"In Britain formerly, a bad storm of any kind was often ascribed to the Devil and his hosts, or to the action of witches. The latter were supposed to be able to raise them at will, and during the period of the witch-trials, they were frequently charged with doing so in order to wreck ships at sea or damage property on land. 'The raising of Storme by Witches,' said Baxter in 1691 (R. Baxter, 'The Certainty of the World of Spirits,' 1691) is attested by so many, that I think it needs less to recite them.' Winds, hail, snow, and thunder were all at their command; if they whistled, the wind sprang up, see 'Whistling,' and they could, and did, sell knotted threads to sailors, to enable the latter to have what wind they needed on their voyages. As the knots were loosened, so the wind increased, until with the freeing of the last knot, a dangerous gale arose. There were other and more unpleasant methods of raising storms, including that practiced in 1590 by the witches of North Berwick. They christened a cat with diabolical rites, tied parts of a dead man's body on to it, and flung the poor creature into the sea."

Whistling - "Seamen usually consider whistling to be an ill-omened act, and so do most miners, and many people connected with the theatre. In the case of sailors, this is very understandable, for to whistle is to imitate the wind and so, by imitative magic, to raise it. It is particularly unlucky if a woman does it..A woman who whistles is always ill-omened, on land as well as at sea. 'A whistling woman and a crowing hen are neither fit for God nor men' is a widespread proverb."
"The Encyclopedia of Superstitions" by E. and M.A. Radford, edited and revised by Christina Hole, Barnes and Noble Books, 1996. First published in 1948.