Circles fringed about the moon

Given it’s currently hurricane season I thought these fragments from the 1630s on hurricane activity in the Caribbean might prove interesting.

The Indians doe call it Hurri Cano, or Hurri Caenae, or Cani: some say that it comes to the same place once in five yeares, but that is uncertaine, for it hath no certaine or set times of either yeares or dayes for the comming of it. It is held by the Natives to be a Spirit, it comes with such an extraordinary violence, with Thunder, Lightning, and impetuous gusts of winde, (as it hath done many times) for it touches not all places there, but sometimes it comes but once, or never in a mans age to one place. The Indians are so skilfull, that they doe know two or three or foure dayes before hand of the comming of it, and then they doe make provision to prevent the harme which it may doe unto them. They doe observe that just so many daies as it will be before the Hurri Cano doth come, so many Circles will bee as it were fringed and gleaming about the Moone: as if it bee but one day before it come, then there will be but one Circle; if two Circles, then it wil be two daies; and so perhaps three or foure Circles, as it did lately at Saint Christophers, where it came in that fearefull and unresistable fury, on the fifth day of August last, 1638. Where, although that the Dutch and English had warning of the comming of it, by the knowledge that the Indians had by observation of the Moone and the Circles, and that all possible meanes was used for the safeguard of men ships, and goods, yet when it came, the force of it was so great, and continued so vehemently the space of foure dayes and nights without intermission, that maugre all the industry that could be, it sunke five Shipps, whereof two were English, and three were Dutch; and of Englishmen, Dutchmen, and Indians, it did drowne and kill to the number of Seventy and five persons, besides the harme it did to many Houses and goods.

Where the Here or Hurri Cano comes, the Winde doth blow so strong and forcible, that it will puffe men from the ground into the Aire five or sixe foote high, as if they were no more but ragges, clouts, or feathers; and so violent it is, that it leaves not a leaf upon any Bough or Tree: and likewise it overthroweth many Trees, rending them up by the roots, so that the Inhabitants (when they are warned of the comming of the Hurri Cano by the Circles about the Moone) they doe lop off the limbes and great heads off from the Trees, because the violent and outragious Tempest of the tempestuous Windes shall have the lesse force and power to overturne them; and especially those Trees which they doe intend to preserve and keepe for bearing of fruite, they doe commonly cut off, and graffe them againe by our English advice.

The people all of them forsake their Houses, as not daring to remaine in them for feare that they should be blown down about their eares; at which dangerous times they do creep for safety into holes Caves, pits, Dens and hollow places of the earth, which are either naturall of themselves, or digged and framed by Art or laborious industry of man, which places are good harbours and defences against the Hurry-Cano. They doe likewise tye or make fast Hamackoes or hanging Cabin unto two Trees that are lopy’d, and then the people do get into those Cabins, & so they do lye downe in them, being hang’d above the ground sixe or seaven foot, eyther with strong Ropes or iron chaines; and so they swing two and againe like a Bell when it is rung, when this tempest is; their Hamackoes are made either of course linnin cloath, or of strong stuffe made of twisted threads spun out of the rindes of trees; some who have not these Cabins, do for feare bind themselves with cords, singlely or severally to divers trees, and so they do remaine bound untill the fury of the Hurry-Cano is past.
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