The Lucky Birds, Crows and Ravens

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

Instagram: @thewandcarver

Originally posted on 19/09/2017 at speakingofwitchwands.net

They get very bad press, crows do. Some farmers would as soon to shoot one as to suffer its existence in many cases and people, in general, are afraid of them simply because of the rhymes, poems, and stories that have caused superstition to run rampant over the course of time. The fact is, crows are amongst the most intelligent of birds, with the Australian crow being the cleverest of all. And, they have been found to be more of a saviour of crops than harm for they indeed eat many pests which cause harm to growing fruit and veg.

murder of british crows
from dailymail.co.uk

The crow, or Corvus, the genus which comprises all crows, ravens, and rooks are part of the Corvidae family, which includes jays, magpies and nutcrackers. There are more than thirty species but the science and biology of corvids is not why I’m writing this.

I simply love crows and ravens. Watching them live their lives and learning the meaning of what they do and say [or caw?], is a favourite past-time of mine.  I’ve had a murder, or probably should say “family” of crows, living in a nearby Oak tree for a very long time. Their cheery morning caws when I walk outside with a cup of tea on a nice morning makes me feel special, in a way. Of course, I say “Good morning, crows!” and they stop cawing. Coincidence? I don’t believe in it. It has been proven that crows recognise faces. And if they see one they aren’t familiar with or who looks like a bad character, they will kick up a right old fuss and in some cases, mob the dodgy so-and-so if he seems to be a real and present danger.  The main reason for the cawing down of said suspect is so the other crows will remember this ones’ face if seen again.   How clever are they?

Crows, like many birds, predict the weather as well. Many have been the times when “my” crows would leave their roost in the Oak tree ahead of severe weather. Generally, when crows leave the roost, they have a call that alerts the rest of the murder and then leave at dusk. Predictably, they stay away for several days until the danger has passed. There is an old saying that if a crow is the first bird you hear of a morning, you will have rain that day. Not so with my crows…they are almost always the first bird I hear and it does not always rain that day.

Anting Crow

And a good time was had by all?

Did you know that the North American crow will literally stand on an anthill to allow the ants to climb all over them? Then, the bird will rub the ants into their feathers. This behaviour is called “anting” and is used to ward off parasites. Ants can also cause birds to get drunk from the formic acid released from the ant’s bodies. Not my idea of a night out!

Why are crows thought to be unlucky?

Because of superstition, I say. After battles, the crow was usually the first to pitch up after the battle was finished to feast on the dead. Mind you, the crow was only doing its job – to clean up! But for ages now the crow has the symbology of death hanging above it. And I love the old rhyme “One for sorrow, two for joy, three for girl, four for boy…” Who knows? I count one crow as lucky as two, personally. They are not harbingers of death and doom. At least, if they are around, I know the weather will not be horrible! It’s more likely when they leave you should worry.

morrigan on Cúchullains shoulder
Morrigan as a crow on Cúchullain’s shoulder ~ artist unknown

Perhaps the reason one crow seems to be associated with dreadful things is the story of the Morrigan where she is mentioned in the Tain Bó Cuailnge, Queen Medbh’s famous Cattle Raid of Cooley. Here she shape-shifts into the form of an eel, a wolf and a cow, as well as her more habitual crow. She has various interactions with hero Cúchullain, finally showing him an omen of his own death. Mortally wounded, he ties himself to a standing stone so that he can die on his feet; she alights on his shoulder in her crow form to show his enemies he is dead.

I think it only makes sense she should take on the form of the crow as I very much doubt Cúchullain would have liked her in cow form sitting upon his shoulder!

There are many reasons crows are thought to be unlucky but they really are not. They are amongst the cleverest birds around. Just take the time to observe them; get to know them! They can teach you some pretty wonderful things, my crows 😊

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings x

Sources:

BBC Earth

Wikipedia

Life

All Hallow’s Eve Blessings

First posted on 01/11/2015 by Isabella on speakingofwitchwands.net

By Isabella @TheWandCarver

For the last few weeks, a young black cat has made our back garden her “hang out”.  I wouldn’t exactly call it her making it her home by any means as she did go away for a while and I could only hope she had gone to her real home with her real family.  But then, two days ago, young “Bastet” as we’ve begun calling her, has come back and taken up residency under a small crawlspace underneath the deck behind the house.  I was most pleased to see her back with us.

Some cultures/countries believe – or at least at one time, believed – that black cats are harbingers of doom. Not so of the English, for we have always thought completely opposite of the black moggy.  Good luck all around.  So, we’ve been attempting to keep Bastet happy with us by plying her with plenty of good cat victuals and soothing words and tones.  Apart from her feeling comfortable enough with me pegging out the washing yesterday, she is as feral as a 14 year old girl.

Today as I sat there, watching Bastet contemplate life on one of her favourite perches, a great murder of crows (although thinking back, they looked much too sleek to be crows, possibly ravens) gather rather abruptly in the branches of a young Ash tree across from me.  The tree is in an open “field”, not in somebody’s garden.  At first, I thought, “Ah, what news are the Divine Parents bringing by gifting me the sight of such a spectacular murder? It might not be good!” As we know, along with black cats, many believe the crow to be another harbinger of doom.  Not necessarily!

I watched them hopping about from one branch to another, flying around the tree top, and cawing happily and came to realise….this certainly is not bad news!  They were not gathering to feed upon some poor hapless creature who had only recently perished, whereas the news might have been more to the effect of “clean up your messes, make changes, work harder, give up things which no longer serve you”. The crows/ravens were telling me to enjoy life! Have fun, good things are afoot (or “alight” as it were), go for your dreams a little harder, but enjoy the journey.  It was a pleasure to watch their happiness and fun-having gestures. Beautiful…

For much of my life I have believed that the owl and the cat were my spirit animals. Maybe it’s because I so loved “The Owl and the Pussycat” when I were a child, I don’t know. I do know that I’ve always had an enduring affection for winged creatures and particularly those with feathers.  But as I have been moving into my “golden years”, I continually find the crow and the raven making their presence known to me more often than not.  No matter where I am in the World, crows seem to be near, particularly of a morning if I am outside having a quiet cuppa. Their almost cheerful “caw caw caw” seems to be a morning greeting.  Of course, I always reply back, “good morning, crows!”  If a neighbour overhears me, let them think me daft, I could not give a toss.  I’d rather cultivate a good relationship with the crows, if I’m honest.  They tell me things.

So, today’s message on this All Hallow’s Eve is to go for it, do what you love, make those dreams happen, and have a grand old time doing so.  I think I shall…thank you, crows!

Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x