Lei Gong - Chinese god of thunder
Thunderbolt and lightening, very, very frightening me! These famous lyrics from the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, have been playing over and over in my head as Foshan, a city in China, was met with great thunder storms over the weekend as the rainy season has now begun. Not one to usually be afraid of a storm, I found myself rather uncomfortable with all the electrical activity, not to mention, the noise of what sounded like the sky being torn in two. Never before have I heard such incredible storms. It was like something created by the gods and according to some myths, it might be!
Around the world, there are many mythological stories about gods of thunder and lightening. Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and Thor, the god of thunder in Norse mythology are the most well known, but there are many other thunder gods too. Lei Gong is the Chinese god of thunder. He is said to have a green or blue body, have a bird’s beak for a mouth, terrible claws for his hands and a pair of bat wings. He is quite a fearsome creature! He carries a drum and a mallet which he uses to create thunder, and a chisel to punish any humans who have done wrong. His wife, Dian Mu is the goddess of lightening. She carries a pair of mirrors which she uses to create flashes of lightening, and sometimes fire! Together with the god of rain, Yu Zi; the goddess of wind, Feng Po Po; and the god of clouds, Yun Tong; these gods can create powerful storms.
One story about Lei Gong tells of a time where a hunter was out during a terrible storm. He saw a child sitting on the tree waving a flag. Lei Gong came down to strike the tree with lightening but the child waved his flag and Lei Gong was driven away. The hunter realised that in order to scare Lei Gong away, the child must have been a demon and the flag he carried must have been something evil. To help Lei Gong, the hunter shot the flag out of the child’s hand. Lei Gong was then able to strike the tree as he intended, but as he did so, he accidentally hit the hunter as well, who then fell unconscious. When then hunter woke he found a thankful note from Lei Gong who had promised the hunter another twelve years of life in gratitude. The hunter also noticed the body of a lizard on the ground, the true form of the child.
Myths have often been used to explain the weather and other things in nature. It’s quite exciting to imagine Lei Gong and his friends all gathering together to create the storms that I watched from my window over the weekend, whether they are terrifying or not!