The other day, feeling a bit miserable looking at the battering rain and dark skies, I began to add some gothic pins to my Pinterest. I came across some crow related items and thought that it would make a good blog theme.
I was struck by the number of Crow pictures I came across.
A ‘murder of crows’ is a medieval collective term for these birds. Poor people believed that the birds were sent by the devil and were really witches in disguise.
What is it about crows that makes them look so sinister? Traditionally the colour black is associated with mystery, though technically black is not an actual colour, as it completely absorbs colours. That is indeed a mystery in itself, though only one of them.
The Norse God Odin is sometimes depicted with a another black bird – a raven as his companion. As well as being a carrion loving bird (therefore associated with life and death), the black bird’s croaking voice has become associated with the ability to prophetcise the future and reveal that which is hidden.
But back to crows, who are part of the same Corvidae family of ravens. The black bird like mask worn by the Plague Doctor in the 1600s, brought a sense of not relief but more of fear and loathing whenever he was sighted.
Although sinister, the mask actually had a practical purpose. An eye was made of glass for the doctor to see out of and the hollow beak was filled with medicinal herbs, as well as providing two holes in the ‘nostrils’ for breathing .
From a crow being a bird, to a man dressing up as a crow, the association with death, medicine and the future is becoming more black than orange, especially with our political climate and global issues.
Enter The Crowman. The Crowman was also a travelling medicine man who offered ‘little brighteners’ for the ailing from his medicine bag as he went along his way. He may have disappeared but his ‘little brightener has remained in the form of Gin😄
The crowman as featured in the TV series ‘Worzel Gummidge’ was a sinister figure who created scarecrow Worzel. The Crowman makes Worzel many different inter changeable heads to suit different occasions and situations.
Amongst these heads, Worzel had a ‘thinking’ head , a handsome head to court the ladies, a Riddle me Ree head and a posh head.
In Rock band Jethro Tull’s ‘Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow’ the association between death, cold and Christmas warns the listener to be charitable to others who have little and remember the true spirit of the Christmas message:
Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow. (1982)
Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow lyric Here
Arthur Rackham ‘Crow’ Here
Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow video Here