Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

V is for Vulture!

In the West Marin Review is an article on the turkey vulture, titled Lightness of Being.  It is by Jules Evens.  He writes:

"Many cultures revere vultures.  They spend so much time aloft, ranging over the landscape, looking down on us.  All things pass through the clear vision of this bird. They are the silent observers, the knowledgeable ones.  The Egyptians believed that vultures were impregnated by the wind and considered them symbolic of purification, compassion, and eternity.  Some Native American tribes considered them spirits of salvation - consuming the body and carrying it to the heavens.  And for the people of the Pueblo culture, the Turkey Vulture presides, like a priest, over the dangerous passage from the spirit world back to daily life.

In a beautiful gesture that speaks to an affinity for the earth and sky, Tibetan Buddhists take their deceased relatives to a mountain ridge and feed the flesh and bones to the Himalayan vulture, Lammergeier.  Sky burial.  

    Vultures do walk with ceremonial dignity while they
    preside over the disposition of carrion.

Hamilton Tyler, Pueblo Birds & Myths

Perhaps our cautious kinship with vultures traces back to the early Pleistocene, to the savanna and scrublands, to the thickets where our ancestors crouched, watching the sky and the plains.  Before they developed sharp-edged tools for cutting flesh, our forebears were not only hunter-gatherers, they were also scavengers who relied on vultures to find carrion and to open body cavities to provide access to the meat inside.  Some ember of that early commensal relationship seems to flicker in our chromosomal memory and inform our wonder as we watch them glide over the landscape."

"On a West Texas ranch in the winter of 191801919, ranchers suspected vultures at a large winter roost of spreading anthrax and hog cholera.  Over that single season snare traps were baited with carrion and managed to capture 3,500 vultures that were clubbed to death and their carcasses burned.  Such misguided fears were calmed by the U.S. Biological Survey, which, in 1932, proved the opposite case: that, in fact, the anthrax virus and cholera were destroyed by passing through the digestive tracts of vultures."

Perhaps, as we more clearly and openly bring forth the somewhat forbidden subjects of death and race, they too, will more easily and cleanly pass through our digestive tracts.

Open to discourse.   Transform in the soar from earth to sky.  


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