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Tolkien's Eagles
Footnotes to Birds by Ronald Thomas West

From an egoistic perspective, myself and other writers have often criticized J. R. R. Tolkien of solving nearly every plot deadfall via recourse to the appearance of Gandalf the wizard [representing the culturally submerged witchcraft of old pagan Europe] and by an appearance of the giant eagles. However, if one reads Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit as a protest against modern industrial society written by a World War I survivor who had a deep academic grounding in European folklore, we might perceive Gandalf and the eagles along the lines discussed by Ronald in Birds.

See also Joseph Campbell's Flight of the Wild Gander, recall Odin's [the one-eyed god of wisdom] ravens who brought news of war, the fact that the "Crow" Indians referred to themselves as The Sacred Ravens, that among their Sioux enemies a lineage of renowned medicine men are named Crow Dog, the Tibetan practice of feeding the dead to birds, that the Hellenic Hermes, Escort of Souls was depicted as Roman Mercury with winged feet, the avian aspects of the Egyptian deities Horus and Toth, and Enkidu's dream in Gilgamesh, in which he is cloaked in feathers when he passes from life, but then bound by an evil force and submerged beneath the desert. For more on the wisdom of birds see Black Elk Speaks

It is my suspicion that one of the reasons for certain numbers of disenchanted European Americans, from 1587 to Ronald's recent odyssey, seeking Native American perspectives has to do with the fact that the primal habitat of North America and Europe were very similar. Also note that the ancient civilizations of Sumer and Egypt seem to have had more structural, patriarchal similarities with the Aztec, Mayan and Inca civilizations than anything found in in the Northern woodlands and plains of either hemisphere. For instance, Aztec women were mere property. If a man died owing money his wife would fall to slavery as property of the debt holder.

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