Taking Up Residence at Bancroft Manor

Corvus by Asteri-A.deviantart.com on @deviantART

When I heard that the Bancroft Estate was being inhabited by a whole bunch of creative types I figured it was time to set up my Apothecary there! Watch this space!

A Raven Crown

The hereditary monarchy of the Wangchuk dynasty in the independent Himalayan State of Bhutan was established in 1907. The first king of the Wangchuk dynasty, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck (1862–1926), was a charismatic figure who came to power against a turbulent background of incessant and complex feuding in that chaotic warrior state. He adopted as the unique symbol of his authority a crown surmounted by the head of a raven. The bird represents a form of “Mahakala“, Bhutan’s guardian deity. The prototype of the founding monarch’s Raven Crown had first been devised as a battle helmet for his father, Jigme Namgyel (1825–81). Known as the Black Regent, he had worn it in bloody struggles against his many rivals within the country and against the British who tried, unsuccessfully, to subdue him.

The story of the Wangchuck dynasty’s rise and triumph moves from a picture of turmoil and chaos to one of relative peace and stability. The heredity monarchy is fairly recent and the Wangchuck dynasty was established in 1907.

Raven Crown today is the official crown worn by the Kings of Bhutan. The Raven is the national bird of Bhutan. The raven is known locally as Jaroq. One time was a capital crime to kill a raven in Bhutan.

Origami Ravens for Halloween

It is almost safe to say that if an animal comes in all black, it could be considered linked to the supernatural and scary. Crows have long been thought to become present to represent a bad omen. This could be why this creature has come to symbolize Halloween. Also, they are sometimes believed to be companions of witches and certainly a common part of their brews to cast spells.

A group of crows circling overhead, called a murder actually, has become a tale of superstition claiming someone will die. Of course there are plenty of cultures and folklore that consider a single crow or a murder of crows to be good luck, but when it comes to Halloween, crows are seen as devious. Edgar Allan Poe may not have helped the matter with his classic chilling poetic account of “The Raven” who comes knocking, knocking at his chamber door.

As you decorate for Halloween remember that artificial ravens and crows, used in in moderation, are a great addition to the tops of your tombstones, sitting in trees, and looking over your trick or treaters from the top of your porch, or anywhere they can sit and stare at your visitors as they arrive. These can be found at art’s & crafts stores during the Halloween season. Various sizes can be found as well as owls and vultures. Alternatively .make some spooky ravens for decorations this Halloween

When I Am Dead

Because we live in a death denying society those faced with the death of loved ones often feel that they are left facing the inevitable void alone. I have a small copy of the work of Ella Wheeler Wilcox and the page opened at this poem. The truth is that when you talk about death you learn about how to live.

When I am dead, if some chastened one,
Seeing the item, or hearing it said
That my play is over, and my part done,
And I lie asleep in my narrow bed —
If I could know that some soul would say,
Speaking aloud or silently,
In the heat, and burden of the day,
She gave a refreshing draught to me;

Or, when I was lying nigh unto death,
She nursed me to life, and to strength again,
And when I labored and struggled for breath,
She soothed and quieted down my pain;

Or, when I was groping in grief and doubt,
Lost, and turned from the light o’ the day,
Her hand reached me and helped me out,
And led me up to the better way;

Or, when I was hated and shunned by all,
Bowing under my sin and my shame,
She, once, in passing me by, let fall
Words of pity and hope that came
Into my heart, like a blessed calm
Over the waves of the stormy sea,
Words of comfort like oil and balm,
She spake, and the desert blossomed for me;

Better by far, than a marble tomb —
Than a monument towering over my head;
(What shall I care, in my quiet room,
For head board or foot board, when I am dead)
Better than glory, or honors, or fame,
(Though I am striving for those to-day)
To know that some heart will cherish my name,
And think of me kindly, with blessings, alway.

1870.
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Copyright 1873
Hauser & Storey, Milwaukee

A Creation Myth

Sibyl Raven

From the formless void
Motes, particles, miniscule molecules of matter
Slowly began to stir
Drawn by an invisible procreative,
Primordial force
They gravitated
Clinging together tenaciously
Swelling into a giant cluster
A sensual shape with
Dark raven wings

Inflaming, arousing desire, Raven
Spread her wings
Dancing, gyrating provocatively
Upon Wind’s fingertips
Wind and raven’s coming together
Borne of frenzied passion
Was a union, an act of love?
From which was birthed
An exquisite silver, moon egg
Swollen with life.

Curled within the silver womb
Amid deep silence
Lay the Goddess of Love,
Goddess of erotic love, fertility
Wrapped in the very wings
Upon which would ride, ravenous
Procreative inspiration
The all powerful
Creative energy
That fuels the universe

Heather Blakey

Raven Mocker

The most dreaded of all Cherokee witches is the Raven Mocker, who robs the dying of their life.  A Raven Mocker can be of either sex, and there is no real way to know one.  They usually look old and withered, because they have added so many lives to their own.

During the night when someone is sick or dying, the Raven Mocker goes there to take the life.  He flies through the air with his arms outstretched like wings.  There will be a wild wind noise around him, and sparks trailing from behind.  Every once in awhile he will dive, and make a sound similar to a raven’s cry.  All those who hear it are afraid, because they know that someone’s life will soon end.  When the Raven Mocker makes it to the dying person’s house, he often finds others of his kind there.  Unless there is an Cherokee Doctor watching out who knows how to drive them off, they will all go inside (they are invisible) and frighten and torment the sick person until they kill him.  Sometimes, those who are attending the sick think the person is just fighting for their breath.

After the witches take the life, they take out his heart and eat it, and by doing this, they add to their own lives as many days or years as they have taken from his.  Nobody who is attending the sick can see them, and there is no scar where they have removed the heart.  Upon further examination, they will find that there is no heart left in the body.

Only a medicine person with the right kind of medicine can recognize a Raven Mocker, and if that medicine person stays in the room with the sick person, the witches will be afraid to come in.  When one of them has been recognized in his right shape, he must die within seven days.  Often, when the friends of a traditional Cherokee know that there is no more hope, they will try to have one of these medicine people stay in the house and guard the body until it is buried.  Witches will not steal the hearts after burial.

Other witches are usually jealous of Raven Mockers and are afraid to enter the same house with one.  When a Raven Mocker finally dies, the other witches sometimes take revenge by digging up the body and abusing it.  Traditional Cherokees also believe that after a person dies, his soul often continues to live as a ghost.  Ghosts are believed to have the ability to materialize where some people can see them, although some can not.

Raven Fools Crow

Is it a Raven or a Crow?

Raven used to live high up in the upper Skagit River country. He was very lazy. In the summer when the other animals were busy gathering food for winter, he would be flying from rock to stump and stump to rock making fun of them. Raven just laughed when Crow (his cousin) urged him to follow Squirrel’s example but Raven never prepared for the cold months, when the snow would drift over the ground and cover all the remaining food.

But now Raven was in trouble. Winter had come and the snows were deep. He was hungry and Raven loved to eat. He had to find someone who would share their food with him.

Raven went to see Squirrel. He had a huge supply of pine nuts and seeds and other food hidden all over the place. Raven poked his head in squirrel’s nest in a old fir tree. Squirrel had lots to eat. Raven politely begged for some food. Squirrel scolded him that was always Squirrel’s way “You refused to work and save for winter and you poked much fun at me, you deserve to starve!”

Raven went looking for Bear. But Bear was sound asleep in his cave and could not be wakened. Raven looked around for some food, but it was all in Bear’s belly. Bear had already eaten it all and was sleeping till spring.

Raven was now very hungry. He thought: “Who can give me something to eat? Everyone is either stingy like Squirrel or sleeping like Bear and Marmot, or they have gone South for winter like the snow birds.” Then he thought of Crow he would be easy to fool!

Raven flew to Crow’s nest. “Cousin Crow, we must talk about your coming potlatch!” Crow answered. “I have not planned a potlatch”

Raven ignored his response. “Crow, everyone is talking about your potlatch will you sing at it?” “Sing?” Crow had not known that anybody really cared for his singing voice, though in those days, Crow’s song was much more like that of Wood Thrush than it is today.

Raven continued to talk of Crow’s potlatch. “You are very talented and possess a beautiful voice – everyone will be so disappointed if you don’t sing at your potlatch!”

“What potlatch? …. You really like my singing?”

“We love your singing, Crow,” Raven answered. “The Winter’s cold has chilled the forest and we’re cold and hungry and singing will help us forget our cold feet and empty stomachs. Now you get started fixing the food, looks like you have plenty here and I will go invite the guests to your potlatch. You can practice your songs as you cook!”

Crow’s hesitation now overcome, he began to prepare all the food he had collected for winter, and as he prepared it, he practiced his songs. The more he thought the feast and how everyone wanted to hear him sing, the more excited he got about it.

Meanwhile Raven was offering invitations to all the animals of the forest. (Of course Marmot and Beaver were sleeping like Bear, and Robin and Goose were gone South) To each he said the same thing: “Come to My potlatch! I have worked hard to prepare it. There will be much food at Raven’s potlatch and Crow is helping and will sing for us. There will be fern roots and wild potatoes, dried berries, fish and meat. Come to My potlatch! It will be a great occasion.” Raven did not invite Squirrel however since he had refused to share his food with Raven. But all the rest of the animals were invited to Raven’s Potlatch.

When he returned to Crow – he was busy singing and cooking. Raven told him, “Everyone is coming – be sure and fix all your food, they will be hungry after their journey. And your songs are sounding so good! Crow’s potlatch will be a great feast!”

As the guest arrived, Raven welcomed each one to his potlatch. There was Deer and Mountain Goat and Mouse, Rabbit, Ptarmigan and Jay. The guests were seated and the food was brought out. Crow started to sit and eat, but Raven asked him for a song first. “It’s not good to sing on a full stomach, Crow”.

So Crow began to sing. Every time he would stop to eat – Raven would insist he sing another song. “You can’t sing with your mouth full, Crow!” Encouraged again and again by the guests who were busy stuffing themselves with Crow’s food. Crow sang song after song after song all day until night and Crow’s voice became hoarser and hoarser until all he could do was “Caw – caw”.

As was the custom – the left over food was collected by the guests and taken by them for their homeward journey. Even Raven had taken his share and left as Crow was cleaning up. Crow had nothing left to eat. ” At least,” Crow thought, “I won’t go hungry, I will be invited to their feasts.” For it was the custom that having been entertained, each guest was now obliged to return the favor and invite the host for a return potlatch.

But the invitations never came. Since all the guests thought it was Raven who hosted the feast, Raven was invited to enough dinners to keep his stomach full for several winters and he never went hungry.

But Crow, who had been fooled, had been reduced to starving, and never regained his singing voice either. He was destined to spend his winters begging in the camps of men for scraps of food. And that’s where we find him today, squabbling over scraps in grocery store parking lots.

Art of Bill Reid

The art of Bill Reid exquisitely represents the call of the Raven.

I Want One Too

Goddesse, I begin an Art;
Come thou in, with thy best part,
For to make the Texture lye
Each way smooth and civilly:
Now my heart and mind shall be
Offer’d up with Vows to Thee.

I found this gorgeous ring while surfing around, randomly looking for all things Raven. Simply stunning.

Ravens clearly provide inspiration for many artists.

Finishing Touches

Make Prayers to the Raven.
Raven that is,
Raven that was,
Raven that always will be.
Make prayers to the Raven.
Raven, bring us luck.
–from the Koyukon

It will take almost a year to have the house I have bought completely refurbished and extended. It has been quite a process waiting for planning and building permits to be granted. But work has progressed and little by little I am getting closer to being able to move in and add finishing touches like this. I can see some of these lovely creatures hanging from branches of some of my trees.

Even if I had $11000 to spend on the garden I am not sure that I would actually purchase this sculpture but I have to say I do love the work. I am happy to admire the craftsmanship here on my blog and hope that this piece finds a good home.