What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word "Crow"? For me, aside from the black birds that scavenge, it was the mystical belief that they are omens of death.
In my newly contracted book, Pandora's Box, I needed a mystical creature that could deliver a riddle from a higher power about the future. So, I started researching and quickly became fascinated by the Crow. Similar to the Raven it appears in mythology as a soothsayer, as a creator and cleanser and as omens of death. Okay, so I wasn’t completely wrong, but neither did I know near all of it.
Among the North America tribes the Crow was considered as the guardian of the sacred law that could see not only the past, but the present and the future. Ah, so a soothsayer that could easily be used in my story to deliver a riddle about future events.
In Celtic lore, the battle goddess Morrigan would shapeshift into either a crow or a raven and they were both seen as allies and companions.
Scottish folklore said the crow had 27 different sounds and each one of them correlated to an occasion, foretelling anything from coming guests to good fortune to an imminent death. Truly I found this fascinating and wanted to learn more about the 27 different cries. By the way, the number 27 was derived from the magical 3 x 9 derivative.
To the Greek, the crow was considered an unlucky warning. In fact, while crows were sacred to the Greek goddess Athene, she refused to allow them to perch atop the roof of Acropolis in Athens because they were omens of death. Even though they were considered omens of death, it did not prevent the Greek god Apollo from shapeshifting into a crow when he fled Typhon.
Medieval bestiaries saw the crow as birds of parental devotion and it was said that the crow led the migration of storks. Medieval Christians thought the crow was a sign of the devil because of its scavenging conduct, but it was also an icon of fidelity because it was thought that crows did not seek a new mate when its mate died. Magical properties were given to the crow as well, which included the skill to foretell the future, dismantle the past and to educate humans about how to mix humor, playfulness and love.
Interesting lore—or so I thought—was the Australian aboriginal legend. I found it in The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, written by John & Caitlin Matthews © 2008:
“In Australian aboriginal legend, Crow, along with Tortoise and Frog, dissented in the corroboree (gathering) that suggested that Kangaroo and Emu, and Dingo and Goanna should mate. The animals fell to fighting but when they grew hungry, pelicans dived for fish to feed them and a fire was started to cook them. Crow warned them that to cook fish away from where they had been caught was illegal and the animals began to argue. Frog threw his voice to make it sound as if Crow was insulting Kangaroo, so confusing the other animals that they fell out even more and decided for ever after to have their own languages.”
All of this was a far cry from the 1994 movie, The Crow. In it, the lead character comes back as an undead entity bent on avenging his and his fiancée’s murder. Entertaining, yeah, and maybe he was loosely considered an omen of death, but he was really the cause of the death of those that murdered him and his fiancée. It was revenge and nothing more.
So, what do you think? Do you believe in the magical elements of Crows? For me, I don’t know, but I do know I had fun using the crow as a magical creature that showed up, shapeshifted into a beautiful woman with birdlike qualities and clothing made of feathers. Minor excerpt posted below staring the Crow in Pandora's Box.
I hope everyone has an awesome weekend! My baby turned 9 today! Wow! I cannot believe how fast they grow up!!!
The crow shifted into that of a woman, with almond shaped eyes and long hair, both as black as a crow's feather, and a body to die for dressed in a black cat-like-pantsuit. Well, no, that wasn't quite accurate. The pantsuit wasn't made of cloth, but rather a seamlessly flowing feather-like garb. A black feather floated and came to rest across Madison's bare foot.
"You've been found worthy of the crows," the crow said, her voice as melodious as a bird's warble. "Keep the feather secure and if you ever need assistance, grip it in your hand and consider our help a one time deal."
"Lucky me." She pushed out of her chair and heard Nix rise beside her. She palmed the dagger Nix had given her. In the paranormal world, she was learning things could turn on a dime, so she trusted no one. Not even a shape-shifting crow. And she grew weary of feeling defenseless as each new supernatural entity arrived on her doorstep. Grew restless sitting and waiting on them to come after her.
Crow shuddered like she'd seen a bird do a million times, her feathery black hair buzzing with the movement. "I came with a message only."
"You're an omen of death," Nix snarled, glaring.
Startled, Madison looked at him, every muscle in his body alert, his pistol gripped tight in his hand.
"Sometimes, yes," Crow agreed looking him up and down. "You're cuter in person, Phoenix Birmingham."
"You…" he made a face of disbelief, "You know my name?"
Crow clucked her tongue at him and then swiveled her head to look at Madison. She blinked, slow, like a bird assessing its prey. "The boy has risen from the puppeteer's hell. Evil has been dismantled from his past, but his future isn't set in stone. The choice is his. A blood-father born of the pit will test the mettle of his son again, but the boy owns his future."
Chills scattered across Madison's body. "What does that mean?" She looked at Nix, feeling more than a little paranoid, "What does that mean?" Did it mean Amos could make his own future or would he own the future the demon planned for him? How could she plan if she didn't understand the message?
It frustrated her that Crow did not answer. Nix could only offer an 'I don't know' shake of his head.
Crow looked from Madison to Nix, indicating the next message concerned both of them. "Nix, if you continue to squander and push aside that which you desire the most, you'll fall to a torturous death of your own making. A pact with a devil in a hell you cannot fathom. Leaving those who love you to mourn. After months of agony, you'll break to his satisfaction, become the monster he desires. In your honor, allies will come to your aid and a new Phoenix, battle hardened by flame, pain and shame, will rise from the ashes."
That strange, bird-like piercing stare settled on Madison and she resisted the urge to fidget under the crow's penetrating gaze. "Madison, you'll be plagued by doubt and uncertainty. A mother from the grave complicates everything, leading to a life chiseled with years of wandering war. Lifelong friends will be made and they'll come when you call. Only when he," she nodded toward Nix, "falls will you find your wings and build a fearsome empire. You're strong enough to crush a King, but it'll take courage to do the impossible. Forged in fire, you'll come out the other side, supernaturally strong and greeted by a lover that'll die for you. Trust in the goodness you've instilled in your son and a formidable ally will be forged, one to defeat a second King."
"What does that mean?" Nothing Crow said made sense.
"A death omen," Nix said, disgust darkening his voice.
Crow smiled. "No, a life omen," she said.
~Photo snagged from photobucket. I do not own the photo and do not claim any rights to it. No copyright infringement was intended.~