Daily mythology: The crows

Once more in fall the crows have come back to our valley. They sit like black spots in the eucalyptus trees surrounding the graveyard.
But then they fly! Their calls and shrieks sound like a conversation. But what do they want to say? This swarm of black birds is trying to represent the currents of air. The air is not a dull mass of material but in constant motion and as sculptured as the mountain and hillside below, but because the air is transparent we’re not aware of it? At first glance their flight looks quite chaotic, but after a while we discover patterns. Why do we enjoy looking at the shape of a landscape? Hard to say, but it’s really satisfying. The crows could be our visualizing software for the landscape of the skies. Aren’t they like the moving arms of an orchestra conductor? We see rhythms: faster, slower, unexpected turns, synchronous and individual elements, cadences… And suddenly they are vanishing behind the hilltop, leaving a vague longing in the air.
Why are crows black? It is said that once upon a time they were pure white. It happened like this. The ancient god Apollo fell in love with a mortal girl, a king’s daughter. Her name was Koronis which means Crow-maiden. She had a baby by him but later on married a human. Who would like to have a god as a husband, even if it is a sun-god? The first who brought the message of the wedding to Apollo were the crows, and they were the first to be struck by his anger, as often happens to messengers bringing bad news. From that day on, it is said, they were black. Koronis’ baby grew up in a small cave; it was protected by a snake, a goat and a shepherd’s dog. The baby’s name was Asklepios who went to be the first and best healer and physician. He was worshiped in the neighboring island of Kos where many famous physicians were educated. Still remembered is Hippocrates of Kos, whose oath is sworn by physicians even today.
Today, after a heavy rain, the crows fly again. Nor the bullets of the hunters nor the arrows of the gods struck them. But let me add an obvious postscript. Journalists are a bit like crows. Because they make visible hidden truths, see bad things coming and criticize the ‘gods’, their life is in danger.


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