I’ve had black avians on the mind lately. Living in Japan has given me the opportunity to see very large crows. Supposedly they are considered bad luck. Three cries of a crow and someone dies, is one thing I’ve read. However, I’m happy to report its not true, because after days of the birds sitting on the wires right outside my apartment, I was still very much alive and they were still very much arguing with each other. They’re a talkative lot. And large.These birds are big enough enough to take off with some of the small dogs favored around here. Keep them indoors people! I’ve been told stories of some crows trying to take off with pets and baby blankets but have yet to find any certified account in English and my Japanese isn’t good enough yet to go looking.
The cover of The Blood Gospel, which I finished reading around the turn of the year, also has what appear to be a swarm of crows on the cover. Why there are crows on the there, I’m not sure. A swarm of bats would have been more appropriate, as they do appear in the story. Crows had nothing to do with the plot, but the picture does present the gloom and doom found in the pages, so I’m not complaining.
Black avians, especially crows and ravens, but not so much black birds have been linked with fantasy for years. How far back I’m not sure. I remember my first brush with ravens in mythology came from reading Genesis. Noah, according to the book, sends out a raven to see if the earth is prepared for habitation again and the raven does not return. There is a lot written after that about the dove Noah sent, coming and going, but I always wanted to know where the raven went. I’ve still not received an answer.
In the Gilgamesh version of the flood myth however, it seems that the raven is able to eat and scratch out its existence, and that is why it didn’t return. So when did ravens and crows started being dark creatures in fantasy.
I’m not sure. But I’d like to find out. Somehow, I think it might have something to do with why black cats became symbols of bad luck in some places. This requires more researc! Can you tell I like research?
Just for fun, other places I know of where black avians have been used in fantasy: crows or ravens attack the prince trying to rescue Sleeping Beauty in some versions of the story, Mordred who is fated to kill King author is associated with ravens, vampires have been attributed with controlling or turning into black avians and last but not least there is the poem “The Raven” by Poe that has never failed to put shivers down my spine.
Cheers, everyone. And if you live in Japan and have a little dog, keep them away from the crows!
Photo credit: Wikipedia