Scarecrows, Husk, Jeepers Creepers and many more horror movies have all driven home the “Scare” factor of scarecrows. They are now an iconic symbol of Halloween. However, is there more to these straw stuffed husks than a wind-blown figure in a field to keep the animals at bay? Although they haven’t always looked the way they do now, scarecrows have been around a long time and have been used in several different cultures.
A scarecrow is a totem of death and fear, but it simultaneously holds the opposite symbolism of hope and prosperity from its relationships to grain and its mounting on a cross. You can incorporate scarecrows into your own magical workings. You can place a scarecrow in your garden to protect your crops from birds and other pesky critters. In addition, you can display one on your front porch or at the edge of property to keep intruders away. For a little magical boost, place a protective stone such as hematite inside its body. You can also stuff it with protective herbs like violet, thistle, honeysuckle, or fennel.
Scarecrows through History
In the fields of ancient Greece, wooden statues were placed in the fields, carved to represent Priapus. Although he was the son of Aphrodite, Priapus was also hideously ugly. Birds tended to avoid fields where Priapus resided, so as Greek influence spread into Roman territory, Roman farmers soon adopted the practice.
Pre-feudal Japan used different kinds of scarecrows in their rice fields, but the most popular one was the Kakashi. Old dirty rags and noisemakers like bells and sticks were mounted on a pole in the field and then lit on fire. The flames and smoke kept birds and other animals away from the rice fields.
During the Middle Ages in Britain and Europe, small children worked in the fields, clapping blocks of wood together, to frighten away birds that might eat the grain. As the medieval period wound down and populations decreased due to plague, farmers discovered there was a shortage of spare children to scare birds away. Instead, they stuffed old clothes with straw, placed a gourd on top, and mounted the figure in the fields.
Scarecrows are also found in Native American cultures. In the Southwest, some Native American children had contests to see who could make the most frightening scarecrow, and the Zuni tribe used lines of cedar poles strung with cords and animal skins to keep the birds away.