Watch out it is the season for zombies. The worst of the worst is down the street from me…. Teddy Bears!! Imagine them chewing on your leg?
Halloween time brings nightmares of crows and ravens attacking. They have gotten a bad rap. Just because they graze on dead bodies or are smarter than some humans is no reason to make legends about their evil.
Here we have a crow sitting atop a sign trying to tell us something powerful. Could it be as simple as a dead-end road is ahead? or do we put more meaning onto his perch? Is he telling us it is not too late to change our ways? That some of us have made choices that are a dead-end?
Looking inward is what fall and winter brings. It makes us reflect upon our year and perhaps find how we can be better residents of this earth.
This crow just happens to be misunderstood. Don’t you know any bird that is all black has to be bad. Perhaps they are not what we have been told. Sound familiar about how not to judge others by just their appearance.
Want to know more about Crow legend and how Halloween is attached to them? Here are a few links to some other posts on those topics.
After five years of sharing my experiences with the world I had a retrospective moment looking back on my most popular posts. I wanted my blog children to be popular after working so hard on them. The ones you think are super-duper are often not the ones that skyrocket to the top. Instead some sleepy post comes out of nowhere and just keeps on giving. Then there are the posts that are huge flashes in the pan but do not have the staying power.
Going back in time…. here are the top five. Lets see if you are as surprised as I am.
#5 – 6 Baby Crows Crying – we begin with a 2011 post about a walk around my neighborhood echoing with the cry of baby crows. Not a lot of photos but this post got 308 people to learn more about baby crows. Baby Time
#4 – Crow Pellet – leave it to an icky subject like bird throw up to be on my top list. A sunny day at the beach a crow coughed up this thing and I took a picture. A little research later I found out it was called a pellet and then wrote this blog that got 514 looks. Go check out Crow Throw-up
#3 – Crows – Ravens Halloween – at 586 hits how can you go wrong writing about black crows and the scary holiday of Halloween. Check out all the bad omens associated with our black beauties. What an image they have! Surprise to all they actually are thought to be the creator and the destroyer. Can you match that? crow legends
#2 – Crow Stalker and Amanda Knox Paparazzi – no matter if you call it a fancy word like Paparazzi, it is still a form of Stalking. It was happening right here in my West Seattle neighborhood, international paparazzi looking for Amanda Knox when she was released from jail in Italy. This was heralded in October of 2011 with media helicopters and traffic jams. On my Sunday walks looking for crow photo opportunities I stumbled upon them sleeping, watching and hanging out by her mother’s house. I started calling myself Crow Stalker after I accused them of stalking her and they said I was doing the same thing to my beloved crows. This first post got 927 number of views in a short couple of months. The followup post recieved 161 views. Here are the links to both of them.
#1 – Its Molting Time – Crows, Herons & Madrona Trees – this post has the most staying power of all with 1,444 views. It was conceived in the fall fo 2011 and every week someone reads it. I think it is the madrona trees molting that catches the traffic. They are a very special tree that molt at the same time as the birds I follow at the beach. But then again it could be the crows who sure don’t look black and shiny when in molt. Its Molting Time – my #1 viewed post
I want to thank my readership for all their input and support. My Top Five is a testament to you.
This time of year crows come to the forefront. Halloween’s roster of characters include things black from crows to bats. How did the crow’s image get to the top of the evil list?
We humans think of one crow alone in a tree to be mysterious (as in the picture above). As the flock gets bigger and bigger we go into a primeval mode. We feel on the defensive and that these dark crows could attack us. Are you thinking of the old Alfred Hitchcock movie the Birds?
So, here it is the celebration of Halloween, the holiday of goblins, ghouls and the grim reaper and what do we see? Huge flocks of crows forming roosts each evening. Some roosts are only a hundred or so individuals but then there are the ones like in Renton, Washington that are in the thousands. As dusk approaches they flock to the determined common ground. Is it coincidence that large groups of crows gather during the celebrations like Halloween adn the Day of the Dead? Some may think not and again the crows image falls lower.
Our historic knowledge of crows and ravens has not always been happy images. These images range from flocks of birds raiding the fall harvest to them scavenging among battlefield dead. How can anyone not fear a creature that peeks the eyes out of dead soldiers? Not that we have witnessed this phenomena in the current decades. Humans have found new ways in warfare that don’t leave dead just lying around. We bomb them to pieces and think we are being more humane. Hah!! and crows are evil? Look at our image before you throw the first stone on these intelligent birds.
Forklore around crows and ravens is not limited to just one continent. How could it be many tribes and cultures individually admire and fear them? Their intellegence is so above the norm for non-human creatures we attribute our own qualities to them. Here are several myths and forklore that have grown up around our dear raven and crow friends.
Odin the Norse god of old had a pair of ravens named Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Mind). Each daybreak they were sent out into the world to observe what was happening and question everybody, including the dead. By sunrise they would come back to whisper into their master’s ear what they had seen and learnt.
Pacific Northwest indigenous people think of the Raven/Crow as a sage and trickster. A similar story of the world with no light is found in many of the New World’s people. The world is a dark place and in that story the Raven decided he would bring light to the world. The Chief of Heaven kept it in a box and the raven conceived a plan to steal it. He became a leaf on a stream where the chief’s daughter was drinking. She gave birth to him and as the favored grandson the Chief of Heaven gave it Raven. He turned back into a bird and flew away with the box of light. Then he dropped it in error and the light broke into many pieces creating the stars, moon and sun.
In the North American mythology raven is a personification of supreme being. When it flaps its wings, it creates the wind, the lightning and the thunder. And it is also the raven who is responsible for the rhythm of seasons and providing the shamans with their visionary and healing powers. Wait..this is a good image!! Are we human’s confused or what?
This difference in how European and North American People saw the raven and crow led to several disputes. Indigenous people respected and revered them while Europeans despised them. This led to disrespect between the cultures.
The crow has also had a role in the Asiatic mythology. According to chinese legends, ten red crows with three paws flew away from the East Blackberry Tree to bring light to the world. But they brought an unbearable heat to the Earth. Yi The Good Archer killed nine of them, and saved the world. The last Crow is now in the Sun. Interesting how this is another myth around crows and the light on earth.
In the Bible, the crow is sent by Noah to search earth after the flood. But the crow didn’t say that the flood was finished and was considered selfish. Another Bible story is after Adam and Eve were driven away from the Paradise, the crows started to eat carrion. So they became black-feathered. At the end of time, the crows will find their beauty again and sing harmoniously to praise God. They are the symbol of resurrection in these stories.
In India, in the Mahâbhârata, the messengers of death are compared to crows. In Laos, the water soiled by crows can’t be used for ritual purification. Guess they are not thought all light and grace by all.
No wonder these black beauties have an image problem. One day they are riding high as the creator of the world and then the next century they are feared as the death of things. If you think about it, the end of something is the beginning too. The crow and raven then are one of god’s creatures who traverses both sides of good and evil. Showing us that it is not as simple as black and white, good or bad and heaven or hell.
Thank you to http://www.perspectivesmagazine.sk/news/ravens-and-crows-in-mythology-folklore-and-religion/ and http://thecrow.tripod.com/myth.html for information regarding folklore on Ravens and Crows.
Crows have such a bad rap. Are they the evil flying beings that a lot of people think they are? Halloween brings out a lot of myth related to anything black. Cats, rats and crows are the top contenders for owners of evil.
Here we have a poor dog walker tied to a tree with his dogs close by. Even they could not protect him from evil. Did the crows do it? Of course not. They might have dove in for a quick meal. Yes they are opportunist. They gained a lot of their relationship with evil from being seen on battlefields getting a snack. Now days we have more sterile warfare but in days of old they were always there to help clean man’s mess up.
So, who did this evil deed? Who tied the dog walker to the tree and left him and his hounds for dead?
The grim reaper of course!!
Corvids (Crows & Ravens) are some of the most popular symbols of Halloween. Months ago I wrote an article about why people think Crows are Evil. evil crows post In that article I talked about how we as humans might fear a bird that is so smart. Or is it that in our clean and tidy world we don’t take well to them feeding on battlefield dead. Lets look at this subject in more detail:
They are black & that color is associated with the powers of darkness. Sounds like a simple reason but not many birds are all black and glossy.
However, other reasons, as I mentioned in my earlier article is they eat carrion. Not only dead animals but also humans left in the open such as battlefields. Modern battlefields don’t really experience this like days of old. Gettysburg of the US Civil War and Culloden (Battle of Scot & English in 1845) are from a time that is so much messier than our methods of killing each other. Add modern combat medicine and bodies left laying around are pretty rare in this century.
Lets get gory (yes Halloween is that kind of celebration) and crows do something that gives all of us the willies & chills. They eat the eyeballs or other soft tissue first. Their beaks can’t easily break the skin of the dead they are munching on so they go for the easy tasty places.
They do occasionally attack and kill small animals hence they have earned “unkindness of ravens” and “murder of crows” used to describe flocks of these birds. However, they do eat other foods, berries, insects, grain, worms and by eating roadkill they are cleaning up a messy by product of our busy arterial.
They don’t have song bird voices either and even learn how to imitate human speech. Some of us think they are smart enough that they aren’t really imitating but rather have learned to communicate in our language. Their natural voices produce a wide variety of harsh and sometimes disturbing noises which most people find unsettling. Nothing like a crow cawing outside your window to wake you up freaked out and worried what the day will bring.
Myths and Superstitions could also be why we pick Corvids as mascots of Halloween.
In Germany it is told Ravens can find the souls of the dead and even contain the souls of the damned.
In Sweden the croaking sound of Ravens is thought to the voices of murdered people who were not properly buried.
The Tower of London has six Ravens because the legend says if anything should befall them, England will be invaded.
A Crow or Raven on the roof foretells death or misfortune to the home’s inhabitants. A raven on a church steeple is bad news for a whole community. I have to comment here- We have quite a flock (murder) of crows we feed and entertain daily. They rest on our roof day after day. I like to think they give us good luck.
The Northwest coastal people have traditions that portray the Raven as both the creator spirit, trickster, hero or villain all at the same time. He is a great shiftshaper and can assume any image to get what he wants. He either is the creator of the world or plays a big part in its creation. Their Crow stories explore themes of justice versus the Raven who has a greedy motivation.
Are you now convinced they must be the most evil thing in the world and deserve to be associated with Halloween? If you have read my blog about their families and behaviors, you know I don’t think that.
But remember, they are Black.
http://rosemary-drisdelle.suite101.com/ravens-and-crows-halloween-symbols-a73933 -Article by Rosemary Drisdelle on “Ravens and Crows – Halloween Symbols” October 18, 2008
“American Crow.” Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds.
Birds in Legend Fable and Folklore. Ingersoll, Ernest. New York: Longmans, Green and Co.; 1923
Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Perrins, Christopher ed. Buffalo: Firefly Books, 2003