A Haida myth on a destructor creator crow perfectly fits our alchemical symbol of destruction and creation per antonomasia: the black crow.
Haida people were American northwest coastal autochthonous ( queen Charlotte islands). Like other northwest coastal people, they believed they were surrounded by supernatural beings interfering with the natural world. Their customs, beliefs, and history were passed down orally through stories, songs, and dances.
The last were celebrations in which costumed dancers created an illusion of death or direct contact with supernatural powers. In the pictures below, we can see a crow, or raven, performer (1).
The Haida crow myth said: “ In the beginning, the Crow created us, next everything in the word, ultimately the totem stakes”. So the Crow is the great prime mover and universal transmuter. Haida people also told about a Crow spotting a considerable shell on a Naikun beach after a big tide fell. The shell was packed with terrified people who, by crow’s recommendation, left the shell, traveled the world, and grew till becoming the first human beings. This myth is beautifully explained by the Bill Reid wooden sculpture I picked up to represent the whole event.
Many myths of almost all of Genesis describe a creation that occurred through primordial sound. Dance involves a rhythm and consequently a chant. The musicologist Marius Schneider, in his The Primitive Music, explains that for the Tsimshian (America) the crow was the equivalent of the drum, to the point of being symbolically defined as “crow drum”, to reproduce, at least in part, the original language of the gods (2).
Alchemy and the Crow above child’s Heads
In “Symbolorum & emblematum ex volatilibus… ” Nuremberg 1596, by Joachim Camerarius, we can see a similar iconography: a crow is standing above a vase filled with children’s heads ( so we are allowed to assume that the remaining bodies are also attached in there). Water is flowing over the vase, together with the children.
Both crows’ scenes are alchemically interchangeable and fully epitomize a concept I previously published in my article on the Egyptian Throne Hieroglyph, that’s to say, the “Isis nightly power”. The notion is that of the first Putrefaction ( see an Opus Magnum Scheme), or first Blackness during the works of Hercules or Preliminary Works. Of course, our crow doesn’t discover anything but gives its black attributes and gets the whole thing to putrefy. An indispensable phase to “destroy” raw matter (generally salts) to let Secret Fire/Mercurius out. The Camerarius vase and the Haida shell both stand for the raw matter to be open.
Dom Pernety, in his “Dictionnaire Mytho Hermetique” on the crow symbology, says: “ … in hermetic science the crow signifies the Matter at Black, “matière au noir”, at Putrefaction time”.
The water spilling from Camerarius’ picture means the Mercurius movements at large or our water. A marine shell is used to signify the same concept in the Haida myth. In this case, we can speak of Primitive Mercurius. As this substance is volatile or flowing, it is thus represented by a bird or a woman, Isis. The operation must be performed in closed vessels to avoid losing any vapor.
The Camerarius children are symbolically the same as the new human beings coming out of shells. But the Haida myth tells us a further detail: the crow discovered the shell on a beach after a big tide fell. Simply put, the Haida scene is a little bit further than Camerarius. In fact, in the first one, the matter is entirely out of the Chaos and begins to dry, so we have to wait for the crow to transform itself into White Doves or the first appearance of our Universal Dissolvation. In this sense, the Crow is the Prime Mover and dances out, or transforms, the raw matter into a real vegetative matter. Primitive Mercurius, just like the primordial beings out of the Haida shell.
We have learned that blackness destroys matter. When the matter is finely dispersed becomes black. But the Haida myth, and the Camerarius vase, don’t depict all our crow’s alchemical adventures.
- Dancers’ pictures have been taken from firstpeoplesofcanada.com.
- Marius Schneider’s “the Primitive Music”: 5 Through Music, Humankind Imitates the Gods.