The Paranormal Perceptions series was created to gather some of the most interesting authors that are using paranormal elements in their stories. Every author has their own perceptions and provides their own insight on all things paranormal, ranging from urban legends and paranormal research, to myths and inspirations. This week on the guest series is author of The Hallowed Ones, author Laura Bickle.
It’s very difficult to keep anything hidden from a raven.
A small clan of ravens lives in my neighborhood, and they are fascinating to watch. They usually come to the maple tree in my front yard in pairs, checking to see what treats they might be able to find. Very clever birds, they know where the dish of cat food is for the neighborhood tomcat, and they will pick it clean if they locate it before he does. It doesn’t matter how often I move it…they find it.
And they can be quite ruthless. A pair of robins had made a nest in a redbud tree in the backyard last spring. It was a very well-hidden nest…it had taken me a few weeks to find it myself. Not many days after I saw it, I heard a terrible squawking and fight. By the time I made it out the back door to intervene, a raven was flying away with a blue robin’s egg in its beak.
Alas, the robins gave up. I know that the raven was watching to find the other eggs, even though I tried to be vigilant about brandishing the garden hose. The nest is now empty, and the robins have moved on. But the ravens are still about.
They have their own language, and I have heard them referred to as “gossip birds.” They carry on long conversations in their hoarse, rasping voices. Like parrots, they can be taught to speak human words, though they do so with an unforgettable rasp and pitch. Ravens can use tools and possess excellent memories. There are many stories of flocks of ravens who are driven away from fields forever with a single shot. And when I say forever, I mean generations…if a raven is killed at a site, its fellows will discuss this amongst themselves and warn the young ravens.
In mythology, ravens have been tied to Odin, the king of the Norse gods. He had two who acted as his personal messengers – Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory). Odin would send these birds out into the world to gather intelligence. “Gossip birds,” indeed.
When I was creating the world of THE HALLOWED ONES, ravens were on my mind. The heroine, Katie, is an Amish girl who is very in tune with the natural world. Ravens are part of her landscape, picking through fields for grain and standing on her clothesline, gossiping with each other. When the end of the world comes, the humans are not sure what’s happened. The people in Katie’s settlement only know that there are no cars on the road, that a curfew has been ordered. There are no lights on the horizon.
But the birds know.
One morning, Katie awakens to a great cacophony. Thousands of ravens are calling to each other, taking wing in a massive swarm. The swarm is so dense that it blackens the sky, and the sound is deafening. The birds are leaving, flying south in vast multitudes.
The evacuation of the birds tells Katie that something is very wrong with her world, something truly horrific. She can only guess at what it is…but the ravens already know, and are shrieking to anything that will listen.
Laura Bickle has an MA in sociology-criminology (research interests: fear of crime and victimology) and a BA in criminology. She has worked in and around criminal justice since 1997. Although she does read Tarot cards, she's never used them in criminal profiling or to locate lost scientists. She recently took up astronomy, but for the most part her primary role in studying constellations and dark matter is to follow her amateur astronomer-husband around central Ohio toting the telescope tripod and various lenses.
Writing as Laura Bickle, she's the author of EMBERS and SPARKS for Pocket - Juno Books. Writing as Alayna Williams, she's the author of DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE.
More info on her urban fantasy and general nerdiness is here: http://www.salamanderstales.com/
Laura/ Alayna’s blogs
She’s also at Facebook