British author Saci Lloyd and I walk through Epping Forest, an ancient royal hunting ground near her home in north London. She is wearing red trousers, a full-length coat, and a fur hat that looks like a cat curled in the sun on her head. “One day I was here and looked down,” she recalls, holding a bag of bread, “and I see the black wing of a crow in the grass.” Possibly a hundred cows surround us now. “There were crows all around me like this — and I heard loud caw caw caws — and so I moved a respectful distance away, and just watched. And I realized then that they were mourning and having a crow funeral. I watched one crow after another fly down and lament over that wing for half an hour.”
We toss the entourage of birds scraps of bread then set out on a meadow path towards a woodland. Sunlight splinters autumn clouds. “The crows are being sentinels now. But — ha ha! Look over there!” she says as a blue-winged covid darts from oak to oak. “This is a jay’s blue flash of magic. They are associated with Mercury, the messenger, because they go between two worlds. That’s what crows are, too. Messengers between two worlds.”
Picture found here.