Perhaps I have been reading Graveyard Dirt too long, but I am now officially the proud caretaker of a very dead roadkill barn owl, currently decomposing in his own little cage.
There has been a rash of strange roadkill animals recently. Normally we get a lot of ground squirrels and rabbits, domesticated pets, etc. with very few waterbirds or larger animals. According to my mother, there are a lot of dead birds of prey. I suppose the population boom has something to do with it. I’ve even seen a VERY LARGE dead raccoon, which is a first for me.
The Owl (which shall be his name until I can find a better one) is not the first roadkill animal I’ve wanted to take home. In December there was a crane-looking sort of bird dead up the street I should have rescued. It crunched under the tires of a week-long funeral for a recently departed neighbor, with a few bedraggled feathers still plastered to the roadbase. Then there was the unidentified waterfowl (all I could make out was the webbed feet from my car). I was all set to grab him, but I had no bags to put him in. I meant to get him in the morning but he was already one with the pavement.
The Owl, though, had managed to get thrown to the side of the road after being hit. He (and the similar owl I saw when I was pulling away) most likely had been stooping on a mouse or other rodent on the verge, then got a glancing blow to the body from a passing car. Not enough to do more than annoy the driver, but more than enough to kill my poor Owl.
His body is being exposed to the elements right now. I’ll be collecting feathers as they detach and I hope to be able to save the feet. His feathers (some of them, anyway) I may part with, but the bones are too important. If his skull is still in mostly one piece (and it seems to be) I think that will be the centerpiece of my work with him. You see, I asked if he wanted to stay with me or if he just wanted a decent burial. All signs point to staying so I am assuming he is ok with it. My tomcat didn’t want to stay, and I don’t blame him. He was tired after a long fight with his cancer. He visits occasionally, but doesn’t really want to be here forever. The Owl, on the other hand, is young (I think. His feet are clean with no lice or crusty scales so I’m going with young). There is still a feeling of life about him even though his body is stiff and his eyes are gone. He may not get to hunt mice or make little owls anymore but hopefully life with me will be interesting enough for him.
And so, the nine-day funeral. Well, nine-night funeral. Fresh offerings go up after sundown (he is an owl, after all); a tealight candle, incense, and a bowl of fresh well water in my blood-bowl (there are perks to being your own potter. Custom creepy ritual ware is one of them.) Before the new offerings go up, the old water is poured on his body. One very important thing I have learned? When you accidentally overfill the blood-bowl, DON’T DRINK THE FRIGGIN’ OWL WATER. Pour some out. You don’t want to know the gastrointestinal pyrotechnics that stuff put me through. (And no, there was no chance that it was contaminated. It went straight from my tap, to my ritual pitcher, to the bowl. All of which I clean.) I would offer raw meat as well, but my ninja ants would find it faster than stink on a skunk’s butt. I suppose I could give him some Kahlua, but I do not need a drunk, dead owl flying into my head.
So, now I need to make a few more things in between drip-coffee pots and kiln-firings.
1) Jar for Owl, to house his spirit-stuff and the major bones
2) tealight holder specifically for Owl (hopefully matching Jar)
3) possible statue, figurine, or stuffed plushie for Owl
I’m not sure if the blood-bowl will be his alone, or if he will share it with other spirits. The local land spirits don’t really *do* indoor water offerings (or food, for that matter) and my ancestors have their own set of Dumb Supper ware coming out of the kiln Wednesday (did I mention I love being my own potter? I did? Oh well.), so I don’t really have any other spirits that might need feeding/offering. Manannan has a bowl already and the Lady hasn’t nudged for anything, so I don’t know.
Oh well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I still have six days of funeral to do before I do much else.