This time last year, I wrote a post on the magical properties of water on the summer solstice (St. John's Eve.) I wasn't able to gather any this year, but I still have a good store of the rainwater that happened to be falling just in time last summer. I use it sparingly, for anything in need of extra cleansing or strength. When a potted plant is losing its luster, a splash of St. John's water will bring it right back around.
I had intended to write a bit last month, but life actually got in the way for once. You may have noticed that, in general, I don't do a lot of how-to's or instructional posts. (I tend to feel that I'll be old and gray before I really have any personal lessons worth sharing.) However, I happened to recall a bit of folklore imparted to me by my mother: stand under the first rain of May, and you can make a wish. The "why" of such a belief is interesting to consider; I would put my money on some kind of Marian logic operating here, given that the month of May is sacred to her, and that my culture associates her with sunshowers in general. (We associate sunshowers with witches, too.)
In any case, it got me thinking about the talismanic potential of water in general. We generally accept that the magical qualities of herbs depend, at least in part, on the hour and season in which we harvest them. I don't see any reason why the same wouldn't be true of other natural substances. Aside from herbal baths, teas, or fluid condensers - in which water is a medium for herbal properties - water could be used to make use of whatever temporal or astrological quality you wanted. If you filled a jar with the first rain of May, you'd have wish-water on hand for the rest of the year. Consider also the belief that washing one's eyes with morning dew on the first of May will impart second-sight, or that the dew on midsummer will grant beauty. That's what I'm talking about here. And, in a pinch, you could imbue water with any prayer or intention, at any time, and asperge accordingly. As for the source of this water, the general consensus seems to be that rain and dew are the most pure. But there's no reason you couldn't experiment with other sources.
[ETA - Fall Equinox 2014]: After writing this post, I received some questions about how best to gather and store rain. Personally, I just leave out two or three large bowls, which can get me up to a gallon of water with medium rainfall. I then store it in whatever leak-proof container is available, leaving it in a cool place. If you live in a house, and you want to get more heavy duty, a rain barrel installed under your gutter will collect and store water securely, with a handy spigot for access. They tend to cost around a hundred dollars or so, and some are designed with built-in planters, too. If you live in an apartment, a "rain chain" is a very elegant tool for this purpose, and could be hung on a balcony. The copper rings and cups catch falling droplets so that they pool into a shallow basin. The chain also functions at an incline, if necessary. These can cost anywhere from thirty to a hundred dollars, though it wouldn't be at all difficult to make your own. You may need to experiment. I won't judge you for rigging up some funnels and duct tape.
Also, please keep in mind that in some regions of the U.S. and other countries, it may actually be illegal for you to gather rainwater, due to private corporations who have purchased all-encompassing water rights. I consider this nothing less than a human rights violation, but what you do is up to you. Make sure you are well-informed about any legal risks you may be taking.
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Something else I wanted to mention is a story that Mr VI alerted me to soon after my last post, about the Wizard of West-Bow. It was generally believed that the home of Thomas Weir had long been torn down. (All the sources I looked at attested to this.) However, it was recently discovered that his old quarters still stand, having been incorporated into - of all things - a Quaker meeting house. The article tells us that this revelation came as a total surprise to the building's current operators, although it sounds like they were well-aware that Weir had lived in that spot. "...one of my staff some years ago said he had seen Weir walk through the wall. If Dr Bondeson is right, Weir’s house is in our toilet, which seems appropriate."