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Tune Tales #1: Kaha's Song

Tune Tales is going to be the segment of my blog where I tell stories about my music, so this shall be the first! I have written several songs to the fantastic lyrics of one of my dearest friends, Jody Martens, and Kaha's Song is one of them.

The Corvid family of birds (crows, ravens, magpies, rooks, jays, etc) feature prominently in folklore and legends of many cultures from all over the world, and also in the Bible (a raven was the first bird Noah sent to look for land, and ravens brought bread and meat to Elijah when he lived by the river). They go by different names, different ways of understanding them, and they generally have a negative reputation as pests and scavengers. Just look at the words we use to describe a group of them: A murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens. But what makes the corvid family so fascinating is how smart and loyal they are. There was an amazing story on the news a little while ago of a young girl who fed crows around her house, and they started bringing her gifts. She would put peanuts and other scraps on a plate outside, and once the plate was emptied, there would be small shiny things left there; beads, polished rocks, earrings, a paperclip, etc. One time a crow left her the "Best" part of a "Best Friends" necklace and she wondered if there was a crow somewhere wearing the "Friends" part.

Beads, just one of many shiny things a crow might like (public domain).

There are many stories, beliefs and superstitions about Ravens in the British Isles, and the ravens of the Tower of London are a perfect example. At least since the 1600s, ravens have lived at the Tower, and essentially have not been allowed to leave. King Charles II was going to have the ravens killed, as they were interfering with the astronomical observator's work, but the king was told that if the ravens were gone, both the Tower and the kingdom would fall into destruction. So, in order to avoid disaster, the king decreed that there must always be at least 6 ravens at the Tower at all times. So it has been that way ever since, and the ravens that live there have had their wings clipped so they can never leave. But apparently they are fed like kings and queens! In the Arthurian stories, as well as Celtic and Druidic lore, there was a goddess called the Morrigan, sometimes known as Morgana, who was a shapeshifter and often took the form of a crow. Some say she was the one who was known as the Lady of the Lake, who gave Excalibur back to Arthur.

The Lady of the Lake giving Excalibur to Arthur (public domain).

Many First Nations Tribes have passed on stories of Raven over the centuries, and as such there are many depictions of ravens and crows in drawings, symbols and totem poles. A common understanding of Raven is that s/he is a trickster, playing tricks on people as a way of teaching lessons, but often gets carried away, sometimes with his/her friend Trickster Coyote. According to some tribes, the name of Raven is Kaha, and Kaha is a trickster, but also a storyteller, flying high above and bringing back stories of what she saw. To some she is is viewed as an elemental spirit, a Grandmother to many kinds of birds. She also loves shiny things, like her good corvid children. This song that Jody and I wrote was in honour of Kaha. Have a listen and I hope you enjoy it!

Haida Raven (public domain)

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