Many people lump black birds (crows or ravens) and pied ones, such as the Australian magpie, all together, and think of them as "birds of ill omen" or some such. Of course, not everyone dislikes birds that are black. My brother recounts a legend in his family history book, A Little Bit of Irish, connected to our Kennedy ancestors from Northern Ireland. They were descendants of Anglo-Scottish Protestants in Ulster and came from the village of Brookeborough in County Fermanagh. William writes: "Brookeborough was in the hands of the Maguire clan until a rebellion in 1641, when it was given to the Brooke family. Lady Maguire loved blackbirds, and the ancient name of the village was Aghalun, which means "field of the blackbirds." (page 187). He goes on to tell of a legend from childhood, passed around in our family when we were kids. This was about a maiden aunt in Grafton, Henrietta Kennedy, who kept three pet magpies that roosted at night on the foot of her bed. My brother likes to think of that behaviour "as a resurgence of the spirit of Lady Maguire." I remember Aunty Ettie as an elderly, stern-looking woman who never smiled. Perhaps her affection for Australian magpies, when she was younger, was a sign of her inability to find friendship among humans. Her younger sister, my grandmother, had a niece, Kitty Walker, whose sad story I have recounted on this blog. When I tried to find Kitty's unmarked grave, recently, in the company of her granddaughter, the doleful dirge of the crows seemed to be aware of our search.

See and hear the original Queen "Live Aid" performance on YouTube (below). I love this music, so eclectic and passionate! I don't pretend to be a rock music expert, but I do remember Live Aid and the utopian wish we all had, at the time, to relieve African poverty forever. Dying children shown on television screens nightly. It was 1985 and my children were five and two at the time. Vain wish indeed! But I'm glad the concert happened, and that I took part in the heartfelt groundswell, led by Bob Geldof and rock stars of the time. I loved the film Bohemian Rhapsody. Freddie Mercury, like his adopted name suggests, belongs to modern myths. Seated, recently, next to my partner in the uber comfortable lounges at the Palace Central theatre, I pressed buttons to recline my seat, and ordered drinks from the phones at my side-table.

A Myth is a story of the gods, a religious account of the beginning of the world, the creation, fundamental events, or exemplary deeds of the gods. The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung saw the ancient gods as archetypes of human behaviour, and  mythology as the personification of subconscious forces at work in the human psyche, mixed with real events. As such it is cultural. Persephone I have always felt empathy with the myth of Persephone, the maiden forced to live for a period in the underworld, separated from her mother, Demeter. See the post on this blog for more information. Narcissus Another favourite is Narcissus, because of its relatedness to current recognisable personality types, even within my own family!  Narcissus was the son of a river god and a nymph, but he rejected those who loved him, causing some to die for love of him.  Nemesis noticed his arrogance and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell deeply in love with it. Having developed an unrequited love that could never be reciprocated, Narcissus lost his will to live and committed suicide. In some versions of the myth, Narcissus stared into his reflection until he withered away. In all versions, his body disappears and all that is left is a narcissus flower. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one's physical appearance or public perception. With the increasing importance of psychology as a discipline, Narcissism is today recognised as one of the main Personality Disorders by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is just one example of how ancient myths often relate on a deep level to problems that persist today.

Some Definitions

Twins can be either monozygotic ("identical"), meaning that they develop from one zygote, which splits and forms two embryos, or dizygotic ("fraternal"), meaning that they develop from two different eggs. In fraternal twins, each twin is fertilized by its own sperm cell. Spontaneous division of the zygote into two embryos is not considered to be a hereditary trait, but rather a spontaneous and random event. Identical twins are not dependent on race, country or ethnicity. The odds of having identical twins are the same for every couple, in every pregnancy, wherever they live in the world. As yet, the reason for the occurrence of identical births is unknown. There is, therefore, something mysterious about the occurrence of identical twins. Monozygotic twinning occurs in birthing at a rate of about 3 in every 1000 deliveries worldwide, that is about 0.3 percent of the world population, and is uniformly distributed in all populations around the world.

Identical Twins and Research

Identical twins spend their lives being compared for the benefit of science. They can assist psychologists in untangling the effects of nature versus nurture, or aid speech pathologists in understanding the causes of stuttering. As they share duplicate DNA, as well as the same upbringing, they are generally similar, if not exactly comparable, individuals.