Merry Meet All,
Today the topic is on scarecrows, crows, bats, and spiders. They seem to be everywhere this time of year and to me, they are an important part of the autumn harvest season. Every Halloween, bats flew around here in Halifax until people were sadistically torturing them. The festival ceased and we have not seen many bats here since. But in the Cabot Trail of Cape Breton, I regularly see bats hunt mosquitoes at night- undisturbed. They can catch a lot of mosquitoes. They should get together with spiders.
People fear what they do not understand. Over time, scarecrows, cats- especially black cats, spiders, crows, and bats have gained a negative reputation that they do not deserve. They are seen as the darker creatures of Samhain. Let us shed light on their symbolism in this entry.
Few things represent the harvest season like scarecrows. Scarecrows guard the fields from hungry predators. Scarecrows are found in many cultures around the world. They are formed in the shape of a man, dressed in old clothes and hung to frighten away predators and scavengers.
The earliest scarecrow dates back to 712, in Japan, where they were known as the “kuebiko.” These omniscient creatures had no bones in their bodies and were propped on sticks to protect the villagers.
Farmers have made scarecrows for over three thousand years to guard their fields against flocks of scavengers. Scarecrows were made and used along the Nile river to scare away flocks of quail. The Greeks created wooden scarecrows akin to Priapus, the son of Dionysius and Aphrodite.
The Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages in Europe, farmers believed scarecrows were imbued with special powers. In Italy skulls of special animals were placed on the crops in the fields to scare away predators. The Germans made wooden witches and put them in the fields in the winter. They believed the wooden witches would absorb the evil energy to allow spring to come.
The Native American tribes throughout North America worked as live bird scarers. They stood on wooden platforms and shouted at crows and woodchucks. They lived in huts in the autumn season to protect the crops from birds and animals. Seneca Indians soaked corn seeds in a poisonous mixture that caused the crows to fly crazily and scare away the birds.
Scarecrows frighten crows because they look like a moving human being. Also, the sight of tassels, trims, or nylon strands moving will scare crows. If tin pans are attached to the scarecrow and bang together, that will scare the crow/s.
Make your own Scarecrow
To make your own scarecrow, you will need old jeans, an old sleeved shirt, old boots, a hat, a mask, lots and lots of leaves for stuffing, and a bunch of safety pins. To hang up the scarecrow, you will need a broomstick, a mop handle, rope or duct tape, and a hammer.
Stuff the pants and shirts with old leaves or old towels or rags until the scarecrow is full and lifelike. Stuff the shirt into the pants. Pin the shirt to the pants with the safety pins.
Stuff the gloves with old leaves or towels. Secure the gloves in the shirt with safety pins. Stuff the boots with leaves or rags and push the boots inside the pant legs. Stuff the nylon stocking with old leaves or nylons. Put a wig and/ or a mask on top of the scarecrow’s head.
To hang the scarecrow, find a spot in your yard. Pound the broomstick into the ground with the hammer. Hold the mop handle or stick up near the top of the broomstick. Tie the rope around both sticks until the cross piece securely holds the scarecrow.
Mount the scarecrow up on the cross-post with ropes. Tie a rope around his head to hold him up. He might look ghastly enough hanging there, swaying in the breeze. Leaves are another symbol of the season and represent the Elements of earth because they come from trees and Air, because leaves flutter in the air.
Crows are seen as symbols of death and darkness. Crows are members of the corvid family. Crows are highly intelligent and mischievous. They like shiny items.
Crow Symbolism and Superstition
The Celts believed that crows were symbols of death. The crow was associated with death transitions. They also believed that they were faeries who wanted to cause trouble. Their magickal qualities included prophecy, knowledge, eloquence, and trickery. In the Middle Ages, people believed that sorcerers used the symbol of the Crow’s foot to cast death spells.
In England, a single crow meant anger, but in Northamptonshire, it was ill fortune. A death omen was a crow flying thrice over the roof of a house. Russians believed that witches took the shape of crows.
Crows are intelligent and mischievous. They have shared the earth with human beings. To many people, crows are still harbingers of death. Before my pet guinea pig died, the crows flocked near to where I lived, never let me out of their sight, and followed me everywhere I went. They cawed and cawed and cawed at me. When she passed, the crows ceased following me. I tried leaving them offerings, but they were steadfastly determined to caw and follow me. I have heard they do recognize people.
Few insects inspire more fear and reverence than the spider. Spiders creep across a kitchen floor quietly, weave magnificent webs, and attract less desirable insects and unsuspecting insects into their webs. Every autumn, where I live, I am protected? or surrounded by spider webs outside my apartment. I do not mind spiders and leave them be. They catch so many insects that we would have a serious pest problem on earth if there were no spiders. They are only doing what is in their nature to do.
Symbolism of Spiders
Dew drops on a spider web to me is so beautiful on an early morning. Spiders are ancient symbols of growth, death, and power. Spiders are arachnids and have eight legs and fangs that inject venom. Spiders are found all over the world. Spiders patiently weave webs to lure insects into to capture them. Spiders are symbols of patience, wisdom, cunning, and creation.
Bats are misunderstood creatures. They fly around at night searching for mosquitoes and other insects. Bats are simply symbols of death and rebirth. The bats live in caves or the ‘womb’ of Mother Earth. It is reborn as it emerges from its lair every night. In Chinese folklore, bats are a symbol of good fortune.
This was a fascinating look at the symbolism of scarecrows, crows, spiders, and bats. I learned some new things as I wrote this entry. I hope you do too. I hope as well that you cease to fear the creatures of the night. May we all try to learn from these creatures to change the attitudes and beliefs of people. Spiders, crows, and bats are considered animal totems to shamans.