Friday, March 25, 2016

Crow: Significance to Cultures and Religions.

We do know that crows and ravens have appeared more times and across greater expanse of earth, history, and culture than any other bird in existence. They play prominent roles in Native American, Japanese, Wiccan, and Hindu mythology, They are associated with many tales of which some still hold religious meaning today. Actually they have deep symbolic significance to many different cultures and religions. Some believe that seeing a crow represents Spiritual Law and its black feathers are a symbol of death to ones enemy. They said to be able to communicate with gods; they can ascend into heaven and they even the feature of the Tree of Life often depicted with a serpent at their feet. 

Crow
Many cultures believe that the crow is a symbol of eternal life; the link between heaven and earth. The black crow is widely believed to be a symbol of bad news. Yet the bird was considered sacred to the Greek god Apollo. Native Aborigines believed that the bird carried stories. In Japanese Shintoism, the crow is an important symbol, it is the messenger of the gods or in other words- messengers from ones unconscious.

Crows and ravens, although in the same genus (Corvus) are different birds.Ravens have wedge-shaped tails and crows have fan-shaped tails.They belong in the Corvid family and are considered to be among the most adaptable and intelligent birds.They defined as black birds having a raucous call. They are social, so often found in groups. They have a life span 6-12 years. There are approximately 116 different species of crow. Birds in this species include magpies, jays, rooks, jackdaws and ravens.

Gustavus Hindman Miller Interpret dreams of birds in his Dream Dictionary. It says,--

--To see Moulting and song less birds, could denote merciless and inhuman treatment of the outcast and fallen by people of wealth.
--Seeing a crow in dream is a symbol of ones annoying habits and the darker part of character. 
--To see a wounded crow, is a symbol of fateful of deep sadness caused by erring offspring.  
--To see flying crows, is a symbol of prosperity. 
--To hear them speak, is owning one's inability to perform tasks that demand great clearness of perception, etc.

In the christian culture, the crow means nothing good, it is consider  [mostly in Europe] as a bad bird, a bird of negative omen. Thus we see the metaphor "the crow pierced you" to say "you have died" used in the welsh poetry. But for the Celts, it is sacred and meant the flesh torn by fighting. They thought crows escorted the sun during his nocturnal path, that is to say in Hell. So they were a symbol of evil, contrary to swanns that symbolizes purity. In Babylon, the crow was the name of the 13th month of the calendar, and had a very negative value.

For the Greeks, the crow was too gossipy. That's why Athena replaced him with the owl, to stay with her. The bird also devoted to Apollo. He sent him to the aquatic world, to bring back water. The crow discovered a fig tree whose fruits were not ripe yet, so he waited near the tree to eat ripe figs instead of accomplishing his task. He was punished for his disobedience and egotism: Apollo placed him in the constellations, but the hydra prevented him from drinking the cup: he is condemned to thirst.

In the Bible, the crow is sent by Noah to search earth after the flood. But the crow didn't come back to tell Noah that the flood was finished. So he is considered selfish. Saint Golowin thought that in Paradise, the crows had multicolored wings. But 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. In the Mahâbhârat, Jamdev ie Azrael, the messengers of death are compared to crows. In Laos, the water soiled by crows can't be used for ritual purification.

For Tlingit Indians, the crow is the main divine character. He organizes the world, gives civilization and culture, creates and frees the sun... For Haïda Indians, the crow will steal the sun from the sky's God, to give it to the earth's people. Raven has also a magic canoe: he can make it change its size, from the pine needle size, to big enough to contain the whole universe. In North America, it is the personification of the Supreme Being. When it flaps its wings it creates the wind, the thunder and the lightning.

Scandinavians legends show two crows, perched on Odin's seat: Hugi, the Spirit, and Munnin, the Memory. They symbolize the principle of creation. In the same way, these birds are the companions of Wotan -"the God with the crows".

The crow is sacred for the Celts. It was associated to the creation of Lugdunum (Lyon), city of the God Lug. Lug is the great solar god. He has the form of a crow and is assimilated to Apollo.

The raven, is in the family Corvidae (crows), probably from where crows generated. In the Bible, the Jews are forbidden to eat "every raven after his kind," as they are detestable (Leviticus 11:15;  Deut. 14:14). although no further indication is given as to why the Raven is considered detestable (likely due to eating carrion).

Elijah
God sent ravens to feed Elijah, when he was in the wilderness: "The ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening." -[1 Kings 17:6].
Noah had "sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth." -[Genesis 8:7].

Saint Vincent defended crows against the attack of carnivores; the crow is also seen at Saint Benoît's feet and in Saint Oswald's hands. Here, it symbolizes divine providence. It is also linked to Saints Boniface and Meinrad: their two tame crows allowed to find their corpses.

The crow has also a role in the Asiatic Mythology. In China and in Japan, he shows love and filial gratitude. 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. So the crow is a solar symbol. It represents the creative principle. In Japan, crows are also divine messengers, and in China they are the fairy queen Hsi-Wang-Mu's messengers. They also bring her food and are a good omen.

The major meaning of this black bird is to be a guide and the Gods' messenger. In Black Africa, the crow warns men that dangers are menacing them. The crow is their guide and a protector spirit. For Mayas, he is the messenger of the God of lightning and thunder.

In Celtic civilization, it has prophetic functions. Bodb, Goddess of the war, takes the form of a raven to observe the battlefields. The crows' fly and cawings told the future. The crow was also linked to Bran, God of the sailors as- "The sailors had crows on their boats. They released them at sea. They flied in the direction of the earth".

In Greece the crow foretold the future. Thus a crow stood near the Pythia of Delphes during her prediction. It is generally said in Greece that the white crow guides messengers. This function of messenger of the gods (especially Apollo's), may have its origin in a Greek legend. Coronis was unfaithful to Apollo, and a crow informed him. Apollo even took a form of crow to guide Santorin's people to Cyrena. It is also said that, two crows showed Alexander the Great the road to Amon's sanctuary.

Hugi and Munnin (Thought and Memory), are Odin's companions. In scandinavian mythology, they travel as a crow all over the world and come back to tell Odin all the events that happens on earth.

In Mithra's cult, the Crow can fight evil spells. Sol (the Sun God) entrust the crow with telling Mithra to sacrifice the bull.

According to Job [38:40-41], God feeds the ravens and their young, a belief also shared by Hindus. Echoing this sentiment, Psalm [147:9] says that God gives the young ravens food when they call.
Luke [12:24] and Psalm [137] offer a common adage, consider the ravens: "They do not sow or reap, they have no store room or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"
Song of Solomon describes the man’s hair as “black as a raven” -[SOS-  5:11]
Psalm [30:17] says that “the eye that mocks the father will be pecked out by the ravens in the valley”. This passage has later been translated or adapted to include vultures and hawks to appeal to the current day man’s association with carrion.

In talking about the desert and its distinct desolation, as Isaiah [34:11] describes the ‘owl and raven’ as nesting there, attempting to portray a place where there was once life and now where there is only death. This passage has later been translated to include cormorants, storks, pelicans, somehow hedgehogs, and porcupines, but the raven part has stayed consistent.

The first bird Noah sent out from the ark was a white raven (Gen. 8:7), which kept flying back and forth until the water dried up from the earth. Today this has evolved into a dove with an olive branch.

In medieval times, crows were thought to live abnormally long lives. They were also thought to be monogamous throughout their long lives. They were thought to predict the future, to predict rain and reveal ambushes. Crows were also thought to lead flocks of storks while they crossed the sea to Asia.

Crows have been shown to have the ability to visually recognize individual humans and to transmit information about "bad" humans by squawking. An ancient Greek and Roman adage, told by Erasmus runs, "The swans will sing when the jackdaws are silent," meaning that educated or wise people will speak after the foolish become quiet. The Roman poet Ovid saw the crow as a harbinger of rain (Amores 2,6, 34). Pliny noted how the Thessalians, Illyrians, and Lemnians cherished jackdaws for destroying grasshoppers' eggs. The Veneti are fabled to have bribed the jackdaws to spare their crops.

Ancient Greek authors tell how a jackdaw (a passerine bird in the crow family), being a social creature, may be caught with a dish of oil into which it falls while looking at its own reflection. In Greek legend, princess Arne was bribed with gold by King Minos of Crete and was punished for her avarice by being transformed into an equally avaricious jackdaw, which still seeks shiny things.

In Australian Aboriginal mythology, crow is a trickster, culture hero, and ancestral being. Legends relating to crow have been observed in various Aboriginal language groups and cultures across Australia; these commonly include stories relating to crow's role in the theft of fire, the origin of death, and the killing of eagle's son.

Crows are mentioned often in Buddhism, especially Tibetan disciplines. The Dharmapala Mahakala is represented by a crow in one of his physical/earthly forms. In the Chaldean myth, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim releases a dove and raven to find land; however, the dove merely circles and returns. Only then does Utnapishtim send forth the raven, which does not return, and Utnapishtim concludes the raven has found land.

In Chinese mythology, the world originally had 10 suns either spiritually embodied as 10 crows and/or carried by 10 crows; when all 10 decided to rise at once, the effect was devastating to crops, so the gods sent their greatest archer Houyi, who shot down nine crows and spared only one. In Denmark, the night raven is considered an exorcised spirit. A hole in its left wing denotes where the stake used to exorcise it was driven into the earth. He who looks through the hole will become a night raven himself.

Kali on Crow
In Hinduism, crows are thought of as carriers of information that give omens to people regarding their situations. For example, when a crow crows in front of a person's house, the resident is expected to have special visitors that day. Also, in Hindu literature, crows have great memories which they use to give information. Symbolism is associated with the crow in the Hindu faith.

On a positive note, crows are often associated with worship of ancestors because they are believed to be embodying the souls of the recently deceased. However, many negative associations with crows are seen in Hinduism. Crows are believed to be connected with both the gods and goddesses, particularly the unfavorable or harmful ones such as ’Saturn’. They are often seen as dark and dangerous. Crows are also seen as being signs of bad luck or evil in some practices. Crows are also considered ancestors in Hinduism and during ’sradha' that is a ceremony after ones death, the practice of offering food  that called 'Pindi' to crows is still in vogue.Crows are associated with Dhumavati, the form of mother goddess that invokes quarrel and fear.

In Islam, according to a narration in the Hadith, the crow is one of the five animals for which no blame is placed on the one who kills them. The Surat al-Ma'ida describes the story of how the crow teaches son of Adam to cover dead body of his brother "Then Allah sent a crow digging up the earth so that he might show him how he should cover the dead body of his brother. He said: Woe me! do I lack the strength that I should be like this crow and cover the dead body of my brother? So he became of those who regret.".[Qur'an 5:31]

In Sweden, ravens are held to be the ghosts of murdered men. Norse mythology also includes Huginn and Muninn, bringing information to the god Odin. In Welsh mythology, the god Brân the blessed – whose name means "crow" or "raven" — is associated with corps and death; tradition holds that Bran's severed head is buried under the Tower of London, facing France —a possible genesis for the practice of keeping ravens in the tower, said to protect the fortunes of Britain. 

In Cornish folklore, crows -magpies particularly -are associated with death and the "other world", and proscribes respectful greeting. The origin of "counting crows" as augury is British; however, the British version rather is to "count magpies" -their black and white pied coloring alluding to the realms of the living and dead.

In Aesop's Fables, the jackdaw embodies stupidity in one tale (by starving while waiting for figs on a fig tree to ripen), vanity in another (the jackdaw sought to become king of the birds with borrowed feathers, but was shamed when they fell off),and cunning in yet another (the crow comes up to a pitcher and knows that his beak is too short to reach the water, and if he tips it over, all the water will fall out, so the crow places pebbles in the pitcher so the water rises and he can reach it to relieve his thirst).

jackal flatters the crow
A very early Indian version exists in the Buddhist scriptures as the Jambu-Khadak-Jatak. In this book a jackal flatters the crow’s voice as it is feeding in a rose-apple tree. The crow replies that it requires nobility to discover the same in others and shakes down some fruit for the jackal to eat as a reward.

“A crow sat on a tree,
Holding a cheese in his beak.
A fox was attracted by the odour,
And tried to attract him thus.

‘O crow, good day to you.
You are a handsome and good looking bird!
In truth, if your song is as beautiful as your plumage,
You are the Phoenix of this forest.’

Hearing these words the crow felt great joy,
And to demonstrate his beautiful voice,
He opened his mouth wide and let drop his prey.
The fox seized it and said: "My dear,
Know that every flatterer,
Lives at the expense of those who take him seriously:
This is a lesson that is worth a cheese no doubt
The crow, embarrassed and confused,
Swore, though somewhat later, 
that he would never be tricked thus again.”

“Flatterers thrive on fools’ credulity.
The lesson’s worth a cheese, don’t you agree?”
The crow, shamefaced and flustered swore,
Too late, however: “Nevermore!”

In recent years, crow populations have expanded into urban and suburban areas.  Noticing this, Emperor Akbar asked Mulla Nasiruddin to count the crows in his town. But Mulla immediately answered that they were 9,999 in numbers. But if counted more, to be consider, some come to visit their relatives here and if counted less, to be consider, some went to visit their relatives.

Crows are omnivorous and eat whatever is available—insects, spiders, snails, fish, snakes, eggs, nestling birds, cultivated fruits, nuts, and vegetables. They also scavenge dead animals and garbage. Their tameness becomes notable as they seek the plentiful food sources found anywhere. Sometimes, they drop hard-shelled nuts onto a street, and then wait for passing automobiles to crack them. Similarly, along the coast they drop mussels and other shellfish on rocks to crack the shells and expose the flesh.

Outside of the breeding season, crows travel as far as 40 miles each day from evening roost sites to daytime feeding areas. They usually post “sentries,” who alert the feeding birds of danger. They  built nests 15-60 feet above ground in tall coniferous or deciduous trees. Nests are 1½ to 2 feet in diameter, and solidly built in the crotch of a limb or near the tree trunk. Nests are constructed from branches and twigs, and are lined with bark, plant fibers, mosses, hair, twine, cloth, and other soft material. Hawks and owls inhabit old crow nests; raccoon's and tree squirrels use them as summer napping platforms.

Both sexes build the nest during a period of 8-14 days—beginning as early as mid-March and as late as mid-July—depending on latitude and elevation. The female incubates four to five eggs for 18 days, at times being fed by her mate or sometimes by offspring from the previous year.

The chicks grow quickly and are out of the nest at around four weeks after hatching, although they continue being fed by the adults for about another 30 days. Frequently, one or more young crows remain with the parents through the next nesting season, or several nesting seasons, to help care for nestlings. This cooperative behavior during breeding includes bringing food to the nest and guarding the nestlings.

In spring and summer, crows are usually seen in family groups of two to eight birds. During late summer, fall, and winter, crows gather from many miles to form communal night roosts. Adult crows have few predators—eagles, hawks, owls, and human hunters—with humans being their main predator.

Much of the time, crows are seen in small, noisy, family bands, spending the majority of their time in fairly restricted areas. For about a month during the nest building, egg laying, and incubation periods, breeding adult crows become uncharacteristically secretive and quiet. After the eggs have hatched, the parents become noisy defenders of their nest and later the young are heard wailing at their parents for food with an insistent, nasal caw.

In late summer through winter, crows are seen in large, raucous flocks that roam widely. In agricultural areas hundreds of crows may gather to forage in fields, while in cities, landfills and garbage dumpsters are crow favorites.

Interesting visual displays include male and female crows bobbing their heads up and down, and accentuating this by bowing. The wings and tail may also spread slightly and the body feathers may be fluffed. The bobbing display is usually performed in the presence of another crow in spring, and is possibly associated with courtship. Males may also engage in diving flight displays, chasing females.

Crows mob owls, hawks, and eagles throughout the year and are in turn mobbed by smaller birds. The loud, excited calls of crows are very characteristic and may lead you to sighting a local bird of prey.

Crows return to the same nest territory year after year, often a few weeks before they start building. If a small group of crows remains in a particular area day after day, this may signal that nest building is about to begin.

Communal roosting helps crows exchange information and find mates. Some birds, because of their age or familiarity with the surrounding landscape, are more efficient at finding food. Less experienced members of a roost can follow other birds to known feeding sites. Communal roosting also helps crows remain safe and warm. Crows occupying the center of the roost are less exposed to predators and weather than those on the edges or those roosting alone.

Crows are believed to return to the same roost each night, and their behavior is often predictable. Each morning the roost breaks up into smaller flocks that disperse across the landscape to feed. In mid-afternoon, these smaller flocks start back toward the communal roost. They fly along the same flight lines each day and are joined by other flocks as they go. Often there are pre-roosting sites, where flight lines coincide and crows stop to feed before flying the final distance to the roost. Communication between groups of crows often takes place at these pre-roosting sites.

Crows spend a lot of time on the ground and tracks can be seen in mud. Despite the fact that “crow footed” is a term used to describe people who walk with their toes pointed inward, crows usually leave relatively parallel tracks.

However, because crows are intelligent, opportunistic, and protective of their young, and at times congregate in large numbers, they can create problems for people. Crows are early risers and will visit unattended garbage at first light or shortly thereafter.

In the spring and summer crows and other birds establish territories, build nests, and rear young. During this period, adult birds may engage in belligerent behavior, such as attacking creatures many times their size. In this case, the birds are simply trying to protect their homes, their mates, or their young.

When possible, stay away from nesting areas with aggressive birds until the young are flying (3-4 weeks after eggs hatch) and the parents are no longer so protective. Do not attempt to “rescue” chicks found outside nests when adult birds are calling loudly nearby—see “Baby Birds Out of the Nest” for information. If you must walk past a nest, wave your arms slowly overhead to keep the birds at a distance. Other protective actions include wearing a hat or helmet, or carrying an umbrella.

Old adage "to eat crow," meaning to do something distasteful, which suggests that crows taste bad. The etymology of a saying like "To eat crow" is often hard to trace. "If you’re feeling defeated, you simply must eat crow--a bird that is as tasty as it is melodious. It's one of our domestic dishes from a recipe allegedly discovered during the War of 1812. A Brit had caught an American shooting a crow on the wrong side of the border. He talked the Yank into handing over his gun, then used it to force the fellow to take a big bite out of the crow and swallow it. Needless to say, once the American had his gun back, he forced the Brit to eat the rest of the bird."


It is the general belief among Hindu, that crow represent the father-side. People who died will take food and offerings through a variety of crows called "Bali kak". Every year people whose parents or relatives have died will offer food to crows as well as cows on the "sradha"- [a ceremony of the dead] day. Perhaps since they represent father-side, they never become close to people. They keep distance. It is very difficult to catch crow as a bird, put in cage and bring it up like parrots. During sradha, people ensure the crow to come and eat the Pindi, and somehow for the reasons unknown, crows are also ready by the time Pindi is to be offered.

Once sage Agastya was coming through South. He did not want to get separated from his wife Lopa Samudraa, so he changed her into water, and poured her into his Kamandal and carried her with him. Lopa Samudraa liked being water so much that she always desired to become a river. Once it was time for Rishi's Sandhyaa, so he kept his Kamandal on a small rock, went to a small nearby water pond and started performing Sandhyaa. Ganesh took the form of a crow and came near the Kamandal. He tilted it a little bit and water in it started flowing as a river. This is the origin of he River Kaaveree. Sage also thought that "Let her desire get filled up if it is so".

Shaneeshwar holds a crow in his hand. It is said to ward of evils if any occur during Sanir Dasha, or Kandak Shani or Ashtam Shani. Astrology recommends to feed crows at that time. Otherwise also, whether ’Sanir Dasha’ is there or not, it is always good to feed crows. During the phase of the saturn you will be more prompted to do so. It is good to give them water to drink. Since now-a-days because of new buildings architecture people cannot keep water outside, they really become thirsty with out getting water. So on can keep some water on one's terrace in a flat pot with out fail, especially in summer. They will come and drink water from there.

A story of a crow comes in Tulasee's Raamaayan. When Raam was passing his time in exile, once He made some flower ornaments and put on Seetaa's body and then lay down keeping his head in Seetaa's lap. By chance Indra's son Jayant was looking all this. He got attracted to Seetaa, as he could not do anything else to her, he assumed the form of a crow, bit her foot with his beak and flew away. Seetaa's foot started bleeding. As Raam knew that a crow had bit Seetaa's foot, He took a broomstick type of thin stick, read a mantra over it and released it at the crow. The arrow started following him. Jayant got afraid of that arrow so he started flying far and far from that arrow. However far he went the arrow followed him.

First Jayant went to his father Indra to ask for refuge, but Indra plainly refused him saying that he could not keep him saving from Raam's arrow. And not only he nobody, even Brahmaa or Shiv could give him shelter. If he has committed a crime towards Raam, only Raam can forgive him. In spite of this warning Jayant wet to Brahmaa and Shiv but nobody could give him shelter and said the same thing as his father had said to him. After roaming in Tri-Lok he had to come back to Ram and asked his forgiveness. Raam forgave him but he told that although he had committed the crime to be beheaded but since he was sparing him, he still must get some punishment. So he pieced his left eye with his arrow. Since that day all crows can see only with one eye.

This story from Tulasee's Maanas. Kaagbhushundi was a crow. He was fortunate enough to play with infant Raam and got the boon of being real immortal and telling Raam Kathaa to all birds. When Garud got deluded when he helped Raam and Lakshman to cut their নাগ-পাশ and free them, that what kind of Bhagavaan they were if they could not free from নাগ-পাশ themselves. He went to Shiv and thinking that Garud was a bird so only Kaagbhushndi could remove his delusion, he directed him to Kaagbhushundi. He went there, listened to Raam's Kathaa and got Gyaan.

The first mention of crow is that Ganesh assumed the form of a crow. When Shiv was marrying Paarvatee, all Devee-Devtaa, Rishi, Gandharv etc came to Kailaash Parvat to witness it. This gathering was so huge that the northern part of the land started dipping, so Shiv sent Agastya Muni to south to stabilize the earth, and told him that he would be able to see all the ceremonies from there only.

In those days, in south, there was a Demon named Shoorpadm who had terrorized all Devtaa. Varun could not rain so all areas were without rains and dry. Even Indra's garden was also dry and without flowers, so Indra's worship was also interrupted. Naarad told Indra that there was Kaaveree river in Agastya Muni's Kamandal." But Indra did not know how to take out Kaaveree's water out of his Kamandal and get that water for his garden, so he prayed Ganesh. Ganesh assumed the form of a crow, flew to Agastya Muni, sat on his Kamandal and toppled it. The water started flowing from Muni's Kamandal. Muni raised his hand to shoo the crow, but the River Kaaveree thought that the Muni was asking her to flow in that direction, so she started flowing in that direction.

After that the crow changed his form to a small boy, so muni hit him on his head. The boy changed his form again and came into his real form of Ganesh. Now Agastya knew that he was Ganesh. He started beating his head with his own hands in repentance, but Ganesh stopped him doing so. In fact once Kaaveree was disrespectful to Agastya, that is why he had trapped her in his Kamandal.

After obtaining boons from Brahmma, when Raavan went for the world victory tour, he went to Ubeershee country to win Raajaa Marut. At that time he was doing a Yagya. All gods were present there. As soon they saw Raavan, they got afraid and they assumed Tiryak Yoni form to disguise themselves from him. Indra changed himself to peacock, Azrael changed himself to crow, Kuber changed himself to chameleon and Varun changed himself to swan. When Raavan went away, they all granted boons to these animals and birds. 

Crows are not evil, and they are not purposely trying to torment you. They are just being crows, trying to live their lives and feed their families. 

The End.
Not Yet Revised

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