For centuries, lightning has been shrouded in mystery and has been the source of much fascination by humans. In modern times, we are beginning to understand it as nature’s way of balancing irregularities between the clouds and the ground. Combined of both a natural wonder and scientific power that isn’t yet able to be harnessed, it’s no wonder that lightning features heavily across time and history.
Gods and Goddesses
In many cultures or ancient mythology, the god or goddess of thunder and lightning was often a high god, considered the king or close to it. In Ancient Greece, the King of the gods was Zeus, who was often depicted with lightning bolts as a weapon. Twins Astrape and Bronte were also Greek goddesses of thunder and lightning, which is where the Greek word for lightning (astrapí) comes from and the terms for if you have a fear of thunder and lightning, astraphobia/astrapophobia and brontophobia, respectively.
In Norse mythology, the son of god King Odin was Thor, the god of thunder and was known to summon lightning from his hammer weapon Mjolnir. In Hinduism, Indra was king of the gods as well as lightning too.
As well as depicted in ancient cultures as being weapons harnessed by the Gods and causing mass devastation, lightning has caused upset in many modern wars too.
During the Napoleonic wars, more than 220 British tall ships were damaged by lightning. As well as ships, many soldiers have also been killed by lightning over the years due to their metal weapons and equipment acting as magnets for lightning, such as muskets, swords, helmets and bayonets. Wars such as the Second Boer War and the American Civil War have seen such fatalities.
Science vs Religion
In the 1700s, American Benjamin Franklin was known to chase thunder and lightning storms on horseback and loved to study them. Subsequently, Franklin knew that lightning was a form of electricity and thus began to think about protecting people and buildings from it, which led to the invention of the lightning rod in 1752.
However, for centuries, religions such as Christianity taught that lightning was God’s punishment and God’s creation and shouldn’t be avoided: “When he uttereth his voice (...) he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.” (Jeremiah 51:16). Franklin’s invention was rejected by almost everyone, including the military and the navy and particularly churches that needed it most on their spires. Quickly, his invention became known as the “heretical rod” and it was blacklisted by many. This was until the 1900s though, when people finally admitted that the invention was much needed.
Like Franklin, Rodells Ltd. aims to protect people and buildings from lightning by installing earth rods. This includes churches, schools, homes and more. If you’re in need of lightning protection or conductor testing in St. Albans, contact our team of experts today.