V is for Vultures of Vitality—A to Z Blog Challenge

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Hope & Healing…folktales around the world that beat back viruses. Each post highlights one or more balms to soothe and cure our struggles of today with oral tradition and lore of the past. At times, a post will make a connection to history. You can guess what inspired this theme. Yes, the COVID-19. What better time to delve into tales where things can and do turn out “happily ever after”?

Vultures of Vitality

From Egypt-

Nekhbet was the white vulture goddess considered the “Mother of Mothers.” With her connection to fertility and protection, a birth house as well as small temples and a lake have been dedicated to her in Upper Egypt. Her name literally translates into “mother.” She hovered over pharaohs to protect during peace or war. The pharaoh’s queen often wore white vulture feathers in her crown as she also symbolized a protection of the pharaoh.

50-word-or-less summary:

Set wished to kill Horus. Isis, since the birth of Horus, kept Horus hidden so he could avenge his father—Osiris. The “Eye of Ra”/sun disc/Eye of Horus was formed to include many goddesses including Nekhbet. Horus gave Osiris this Eye and was brought back to life. Pharaohs were known as the living Horus on earth with rightful reign.

Finding the Story: https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/eye/ and https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/osiris-seth-horus-and-the-divine-origins-of-kingship/

Compare to History:

Vultures have had a “love and loathing” from many cultures around the world. For some people, it was forbidden to touch the dead yet the vulture got rid of the dead. The act of touching the dead—especially for eating—had a “dark angel” feel. The angel part was that society was healthier with the carrion gone. Egypt valued the vulture as the heat made dead flesh more dangerous to have lying around. Though, if the Greeks did not want bodies to be eaten, they believed myrrh countered the putrid smell of the vulture and thus protected any devouring.

More on the History: https://prizedwriting.ucdavis.edu/love-and-loathing-role-vulture-three-cultures

From India-

The vulture needs its sight so this story of a blind vulture fascinated me. Although it has a sad ending, I love that the vulture was a protector to the best of his abilities. Perhaps more humility is the key to being stalwart to protect.

50-word-or-less summary:

Birds brought food to Taradgava/blind vulture in tree. Vulture watched fledglings. Cat noticed. Crept. Fledglings and Taradgava sensed danger. Cat, being caught, claimed to be vegetarian and wanted to learn vulture’s wisdom. Cat allowed in tree. Fledglings eaten one by one. Cat left. Birds thought vulture ate them.

Finding the Story: https://mocomi.com/hitopadesha-the-story-of-the-vulture-the-cat-and-the-birds/

Compare to History:

Vultures rely on their sight when finding prey. The Egyptians believed that vultures would linger at a place a battle would take place seven days prior. Vultures were connected to seeing in the future, thus some vulture parts consumed were thought to bring such knowledge to light. While declared “unclean” to eat by Christians, the vulture was a symbol for when the Savior Jesus Christ would come and bring ultimate healing. Sometimes the vulture was interchangeable in the Bible for eagle.

Yet in Africa, mainly Nigeria, there is illegal trade for vulture. On May 8, 2019, Celebrity Vulture Ambassadors from music and voice-over worlds attempted to change minds about the vulture and stop belief-based trade of the vulture.

More on the History: https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/new-project-tackles-illegal-trade-vulture-body-parts and https://prizedwriting.ucdavis.edu/love-and-loathing-role-vulture-three-cultures

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings in process of being adapted due to COVID-19.Our 2020 Festival has been transformed into Story Crossroads Spectacular, a virtual experience. See here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/spectacular on May 13, 2020 starting at 9am MDT with events all day.

We thank our funders such as National Endowment for the Arts, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, Zoo, Arts & the Parks of Salt Lake County (ZAP), City of Murray, Salt Lake City Arts Council, and many other businesses and individuals. Join us in the support by donating today!

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