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ravens at the tower of london, six crows, four crows, seven crows

Crow Lore

Author: Atham Z
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Crow Lore

One Crow Sorrow

Two Crows Joy

Three Crows a Wedding

Four Crows a Boy

Five crows Silver

Six Crows Gold

Seven Crows a Secret

Never to be told.

poem contributed by

Crows have in many cultures, been a bird used in divination,
ritual, art and storytelling. They are also the totem animal
for people born in the sign of Libra. The crow was regarded
in many periods as a messenger of death or harbinger of
misfortune; a number are said to have flown around Cicero's
head on the day he was murdered and crows were said to possess
magical powers. This may have something to do with the crow's
cry of 'cras' - the Latin word for 'tomorrow'.
The crow, as "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" puts
it, 'symbolizes contention, discord and strife'. The ravens,
of the crow family, owe part of their sinister reputation to
their odious habit of picking out the eyes of corpses - as
the wicked are warned in Proverbs. It's colour, black,
invested the raven with ideas of darkness, oblivion and

In ancient Greece the raven was an attendant of Apollo.
The Norse people believed that their god Odin possessed
two ravens, which flew around all day collecting information.
In the evening they would perch upon his shoulders, giving
him the latest news they had gathered - a highly economical
form of secret service.

In both the Old and New Testaments the raven figures
frequently, and in Christian history. The ravens fed Elijah,
and St. Benedict is often depicted with a raven at his feet.
It was a raven that brought St. Paul the Hermit a loaf of

The keeping of ravens at the Tower of London is a strange
tradition, for it is assumed that bad luck will result if they
leave the place. Yet the building itself has so sinister a
history that, far from relieving the all pervading gloom of
the place, some think that the presence of the ravens
heightens it.

A more genial legend persists in the Welsh superstition that
if a blind person is kind to a raven his sight will be
restored. In Cornwall the superstition persists that the soul
of king Arthur took the form of a raven for which reason one of
the species could never be shot. In Brazil a similar belief
exists - it is held that the human soul can inhabit the body of
a raven.

Another pleasant superstition is that crows can bring you good
luck. If you see one flying, your wish will come true as long
as the crow does not flap its wings before going out of sight.
If it should, the wish might still be granted if your cover
your eyes. If the bird is no where in sight when you uncover
them, you'll get your wish.

One curious feature of the behaviour of crows is their seeming
capacity to hold 'courts' at which, by numerous accounts, they
pass judgement and carry out summary execution of such of their
numbers as, for some mysterious reason, they consider deserving
of it. As Edward Stanley, the Victorian naturalist put it:
In the Northern part of Scotland, and in the Faroe Islands,
extraordinary meetings of crows are known to occur. They
collect in great numbers, as if they had all been summoned,
for the occasion; a few of the flock sit with dropping heads,
and the others seem as grave as judges, while others again
are exceedingly active and noisy; in the course of about an
hour they disperse and it is not uncommon, after they have
flown away, to find one or two left dead on the spot.
Another writer (in Dr Edmonston's "Shetland Isles"), says that
these meetings will sometimes continue for a day or two, before
the object, whatever it may be, is complete. Crows continue to
arrive from all quarters during the session. As soon as they
have all arrived, a very general noise ensues, and shortly
after, the whole fall upon one or two individuals, and put them
to death; when this execution has been performed, they quietly

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