Friday, July 17, 2015

Blacker than Coal – the Mysterious Crow

I’m at it again, getting myself involved in another historical fiction and having difficulty putting it down. At first glance, I thought “here we go again.” The book is called “Crow Hollow” by Michael Wallace, who already has more than 20 books under his belt; and in this book, he focuses on the colonizing of America and the early “Indian Wars.”

I’d already read a similar book about Puritans and the harsh conditions they not only lived under but created for themselves with their strict adherence to rules and a code of ethics that was punishable by law. In their efforts to be “good and pure,” they became harsh, judgmental and mean-spirited. I was hesitant to start another book along these same lines, but the design cover with a crow combined with the title hooked me!

“Crow Hollow” is exciting, filled with intrigue, romance, and a concoction of unusual characters who take you on a breathtaking ride into Indian Territory including a smattering of languages and dialects. Their ability to survive in the virginal wilderness of North America was woven expertly into the story making the reader a witness to the making of history.

I’m also intrigued by the superstitions surrounding crows or ravens as they are called in many countries. Perhaps because of their inky blackness and their human-like noises, crows have strong connections to folklore and to different cultures around the world.

In India, it is believed that crows come to take away spirits after someone dies. My painting “India Rising – the Lost” depicts a starving street urchin being taken up by the crows of India that are somewhat grayer than their American counterparts.
"India Rising -- the Lost"  24x18 acrylic on canvas
And from the web site “The Spirit Keepers” some additional information:

 “These remarkable Crows and Ravens have roles in legends and myths worldwide. Their wisdom, intelligence and flying powers were used by Ancient Gods and Kings. These birds and the tales surrounding them also played a role in the day-to-day lives of people.

“In many mythologies because of their similarities, the Crow and Raven are often mixed up, and in the telling of their myths and legends; one frequently takes the place of the other.  Like the Raven, the Crow was considered a messenger of the gods, and is associated with the sun,  weather, longevity, beginnings, bad luck and death.  Crows are also associated with the visible and invisible worlds, and was considered a bird of omen and prophecy.  Because of its intelligence and cunning, the Crow was also seen as a trickster, and many believed that fairies turned into Crows in order to cause mischief.

“Spirit of the Crow...

Role: Carrier of Lost Souls into Light
Lesson: To Understand the Shadow within
Element: Air
Wind: West ~ The Quest within
Medicine: Shape shifting
             Keywords: Carrier of Souls. Shadow Within. Sentinel. Shape shifter.”

In “Crow Hollow” the author Michal Wallace named a place in his book after them and endowed these large intimidating birds with grisly properties. He provided juxtaposition between the hallowed crows and their Native American counterparts by mirroring the savagery that both were equally capable of and which actually occurred in Crow Hollow.

The excerpts from “The Spirit Keepers” web site should also pique your curiosity. Below is a video to show you how smart they are and a direct link to The Spirit Keepers where you will find a list of crow superstitions and their origins.

Read more at The Spirit Keepers