Nevermore Picture

Afterwork: Sharpened, bordered, resized.

Crown Hill Cemetary, Indianapolis, Indiana. It'd had been raining so of course all the birds where out looking for worms. There were a ton of them, and as normal Murphy's Luck seemed to just be a part of my day. I'd get close and off they would fly. At anyrate I'm stubborn if nothing else.

Life, Death, and the Soul

Many myths have linked birds to the arrival of life or death. With their power of flight, these winged creatures were seen as carriers or symbols of the human soul, or as the soul itself, flying heavenward after a person died. A bird may represent both the soul of the dead and a deity at the same time.

Bringers of Life and Death. Some cultures have associated birds with birth, claiming that a person's soul arrived on earth in bird form. A remnant of this ancient belief has survived into modern times: one traditional answer to a child's question "Where do babies come from?" is "The stork brings them."

Birds have also been linked with death. Carrion-eating birds such as vultures, crows, and ravens, for example, were connected with disaster and war. Celtic and Irish war goddesses often appeared in the form of crows and ravens—perhaps because crows and ravens were known to gather over battlefields and to feast on the flesh of fallen warriors. It was said that if one of these goddesses appeared before an army going into battle, the army would be defeated.

The mythological bird called the phoenix combined images of birth and death to become a powerful symbol of eternal rebirth. According to Egyptian legend, the phoenix burned up every 500 years but was then miraculously reborn out of its own ashes, so it was truly immortal. In myths from China and Japan, the phoenix does not emerge from a fire but instead causes itself to be reborn during times of good fortune.

The Flight of the Soul Numerous myths have linked birds to the journeys undertaken by human souls after death. Sometimes a bird acts as a guide in the afterlife. In Syria, figures of eagles on tombs represent the guides that lead souls to heaven. The soul guide in Jewish tradition is a dove.

In some cultures, it was thought that the soul, once freed from the body, took the form of a bird. The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul, the ba, could leave the dead body in the form of a bird, often a hawk. They built their graves and tombs with narrow shafts leading to the open air so that these birds could fly in and out, keeping watch on the body. The feather cloaks that Central American and Mexican priests and kings wore may have been connected to the idea of a soul journey.

Continue Reading: The Myths