And this recalls one of the strangest and most daintily beautiful conceptions of the olden time–that there is afar in Cloudland a mysterious city called Magonia, where the hail is manufactured, and whence it is carried in ships which look to us like “clouds sailing along in golden sunset green.” […]
“Most people are so stupid and unintelligent that they believe and declare that there is a land called Magonia, from which come ships sailing through the air, which receive on board all the fruit which is destroyed by hail and storms. And that the sorcerers who cause the storms are in connection with the ship-people, and are paid by them.” […]
What appears from several authorities is that what seem to us to be “fleeting clouds–sailors of the air,” are in reality mysterious barks, or very often spirits, hastening across the sky, the ships and sailors of “cloud-land gorgeous land” bent on errands far away; of which there is a very strange story told by Meteranus (Niederland Histor., b. 28). […]
So it came to pass that in the land of Angouléme in France, in December, 1608, many small clouds came drifting o’er the sky, looking
like the pebbles on the strand moved by the rising tide. Then, one by one and two by two, they began to fall, softly and gently as snowflakes, to earth–“One by one and two by two, they to a mighty squadron grew”–and as they touched ground they suddenly became warriors. “All,” as Meteranus declares, “were very tall, straight, handsome men, having blue weapons, flags, and everything else cerulean or sky-blue–and of them all were 12,900. And they divided into two armies, and fought from five o’clock in the afternoon till nine, when they all vanished.”
But it is mostly in the silent desert or in lonely mountains, in hidden places far beyond the plain, that we see these beings who are corpore aërea, tempore eterna (airy of form, yet with eternal soul), who go fleeting over the sky on mystic errands bent. Sometimes they pause, however, for a time, either of their own free-will or at a sorcerer’s spell, and build up, at a thought, cloud-capt towers and gorgeous palaces, rosy and golden in the setting sun, pillared domes, pearly citadels, and rows on rows of battlements, repeated like giant stairs until high lost in the air. To those who are “gifted,” these appear to be actually humanly built; and no wonder, for they are only made to seem like clouds to delude mankind. For Magonia truly is–
“A great strange city, lovelier in its lights
Than all the golden greenness of the hills,
And in its shadows glorious far beyond
The purple dropping skirts of thunder-cloud,
A city of all colours and fair shapes,
And gleams of falling water day and night . . .
Lit up with rainbow fountains in the day,
Lit up with rain of coloured stars by night . .
And out beyond and sleeping in the light
The islands and the azure of the sea,
And upwards, through a labyrinth of spires
And turrets, and steep alabaster walls,
The city rises–all its jewelled fronts
Shining to seaward . . .
Until at last through miles of shadowy air
The blue and violet mountains shut the sky.” 1 […]
“People when they see clouds in air say it is air (vapour) and a sign of rain, but there is more in them than they suppose. For there is in the sky another world made by wizards and witches who, when they died, were not admitted to heaven, and so they made a world for themselves, which has a sea (lake) in it. And when the weather is dark, and clouds fly before the storm, those clouds are boats full of hail, and in them are wizards and witches, who throw the hail at one another, and so it falls to earth and does great harm. When this happens one should invoke the spirit of thunder (Tituno or Tignia).
Source: Part One: Chapter X–CUPRA