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Stone the bloody crows.

February 6, 2011

This expression, a classic Australianism, was regularly heard by me in my youth. I don’t think I would have said it myself very often though. My mother would have complained about me being ‘bushy’. This is something one cannot afford to be when one lives in the bush.

The phrase was sometimes used in conjunction with ‘starve the lizards’. According to ‘The Dinkum Aussie Dictionary’ (1986) by Crooked Mick of the Speewa (!) these expressions denoted amazement at events good or bad but have no real meaning whatsoever.

However I have been reading ‘A Celtic Book of Days’ and the entry for the 6th of February reads:

 In early February unmarried girls throw stones at scald crows to discover from which direction their husbands will come. If the bird doesn’t move they are destined to remain spinsters.

The black-and-grey hooded or scald crow (Irish, Feannog, Latin, Corvus corone cornix) evolved separately from the carrion crow during the last Ice Age and followed the retreating ice northward: nowadays it is a common sight in Ireland and North-West Scotland and rare elsewhere. Though it may differ from the black crow in plumage and in having more sociable habits, its reputation is no better: scald crows are the emblem of Macha, one of the three sisters who make up the Mor-rioghanna, goddesses of battle and carnage.

‘Macha’s fruit-crop is the heads of those slaughtered.’ from the Yellow Book of Lecon, Irish, fourteenth/fifteenth centuries, edited by Whitley Stokes.


 So now, what to think.

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