Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Whipoorwills V

Here are more "bird" death signs. It appears that birds, and sometimes animals in general, were a portent of death. Perhaps the whipoorwill was a specific instance of the generic legend.

The items below do not have the footnotes or dates collected to save space on the blog entry. (1)

If a bat gets in your house, there will be a death in the family.
If a cow bawls at night, someone in the family will die.
When you hear a dog howling, it is a sign of death.
A rooster crowing at midnight is a sign of death.
If a bird flutters against the window, it means a death to someone inside.
If a bird gets into the house, it is a sign that someone is going to die.
{This one was common in Chrispy's house when he was a small child.)
If a dove lights on your shoulder, there will be a death in the family.
If an owl hoots around the house, someone in the house will die.
A mockingbird singing at night is a sign of death.

Now that we see the mythemes (mythological themes) of "sounds" // "night" // "Alighting" // "Near a house", lets see how a typical oral legend ustilizes these themes.

My great-grandmother had been sick for quite a while, and so one night she couldn't sleep at all. She got up and went into the kitchen and was looking out the window when she noticed the strangest thing - the old rooster was perched on top of the fence. She watched for a few minutes and suddenly the rooster started crowing. She looked at the clock, and the time was only 3:00 AM. Very disturbed about the whole ordeal, she related this event to the family next morning. They seemed quite alarmed, too. Three days after this my great-grandmother died."

Note the use of "3". "3:00 AM" // "Three days" later !!

1. Montell, Ghosts Along the Cumberland: Death Lore in The Kentucky Foothills, 1975.

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