Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:
Case File No. 30-238
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Where We Left Off:
The human worked diligently doing back-breaking work to renovate part of The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency offices.
Cry of the Banshee:
I remember being with Gus under a dead tree branch between Fort Winchester and the entrance to the Fire Trail on Halloween, October 31, 2021. The banshee (bean sí is another of many spellings) shrieking was befitting the day many people find spooky while pagans find it reverent. Gus is a cat sidhe (cat “shee” also with a ton of spelling variations), a special fae feline signified as a black cat with a white spot on his chest or belly and Gus has both. Although, some sources say the noble cat sidhe is all white.
According to the otherworldlyoracle, “The cait sidhe can inhabit the bodies of magical cats, and therefore create a witch’s familiar, or if they need a body simply to pass on a message.”
I don’t believe Gus has someone else possessing his body. He’s an exceptional fae in his own right. I suppose some might think of him as my familiar, but I don’t. He’s my best friend and companion.
There are also differences between Irish and Scottish lore about this fae feline. “Known as the ‘Demon Feline’ by some it was a creature never to be trusted. It was even thought capable of stealing a person’s soul before it could be claimed by God, and in several areas would hold special wakes to keep the creature away from the corpse before it was buried,” states Ireland’s Lore and Tales.
One thing is certain, Gus has an unbreakable relationship with nature which had me thinking about the shriek that scared me on Samhain (Halloween to non-pagans). The photos aren’t good, but I can’t believe I got any at all. The sound was sudden and caught me totally off-guard. It was a miracle that I could point the camera and click the button in time to get any evidence at all. Obviously, I didn’t have the time to fix all the settings for shooting against a bright grey sky. The creature looked more like a silhouette until I brighten it even more. It’s over-exposed in a sense even though the thresholds were changed after taking the photo — a benefit of digital technology.
I was surprised that the identification came back as a red-tailed hawk considering the most recent raptor sighting I had was a Cooper’s hawk. Red-tailed hawks are common in North America. The Audubon Society describes this hawk’s feeding behavior as:
Does most hunting by watching from a high perch, then swooping down to capture prey in its talons. Also hunts by flying over fields, watching for prey below. Small prey carried to perch, large prey often partly eaten on ground.
I definitely felt like prey. I immediately wondered if it thought Gus was prey. It would have to be pretty strong to lift off the ground with 15+ pounds of Gus, but it could have landed on top of him and caused a lot of injuries. Did I deter it from attacking Gus or was it the other way around? Or was it simply passing over as it hunted? But then, why that ghastly shriek? It’s not a fun sound! It’s not something you’d play at night to lull yourself to sleep with sounds of the forest.
After we moved on and went down a trail, Gus had fun climbing trees, but I kept thinking about the hawk who had left and the vultures who were circling above.
I honestly can’t recall if we’ve talked about the Moth Man lore in our years of investigations and adventures. However, thinking about the explanations for the Moth Man sightings has me considering the banshee legends in the same way. If the Moth Man was not real and was actually an owl or a crane, are hawks confused for other legends? It’s the speed and the volume of that shriek that had me most scared. I can imagine walking on the edge of a forest without much daylight left and one coming uncomfortably close. Of course, my amygdala would invent a monster to explain what just happened.
The difference between an event like that and what happened recently is that I had Gus with me. A bonafide cat sidhe. He wasn’t alarmed at all.
It’s hard to research birds native to North America that have certain appeal. Internet searches for hawk legends turns up allegedly Native American stories. I’ve been through this before with other bird research. Since indigenous people rely on oral tradition for history more than written words, I don’t trust any of the websites that claim to be about their stories. If there’s no “About Us” page explaining who is responsible for the content, I’m too skeptical about the authenticity. Those websites lump Native American stories into one category as if the whole continent of indigenous people would have one version. Other websites, like worldbirds at least make an effort to culminate lore from different regions and different eras — they still treat indigenous people as a monolith.
Contrary to the anonymous or white-operated websites, the actual Cherokee Nation website has a PDF about the red-tailed hawk. This file states that hawk feathers are collected from skilled hunters who know how to catch a hawk, remove a couple feathers, and release it without killing the animal. Nonetheless, the Cherokee Nation is not related to New Jersey as far as I know.
A frequent theme is that hawks are messengers from the gods. That seems cross-cultural and I can reason why. Hawks are found in many parts of the world where polytheism and pantheons of gods were once the norm.
- Was the hawk checking us out to see if we’d make a good snack?
- Was the hawk delivering a message to me or to Gus?
- Why did Gus remain calm?
- Did Gus steal a soul and this hawk was sent to retrieve it?
Gus denies any nefarious activities regarding soul-stealing or possession. I don’t expect him to be completely honest all the time. Everyone has their own secrets and needs for privacy including cats and fae. Gus had been busy hunting for rodents. Therefore, I think the hawk regardless of divinity, probably had its eyes on the same target as Gus. When it saw Gus was rightfully there first, it ended its descent and swooped up over the bushes at the front border and headed east.
Case Status: Closed