His name is Jocko. At least that’s the name that came immediately to mind when I decided he needed such a definition. I had just read a Dean Koontz series (Frankenstein), and that was the name of a small misshapen, but somewhat lovable character in the books, that plays a diverse but essential role in the story.
The name comes from the Hebrew, either Jacob, which means one who supplants, or from the name John, which means beloved of God.
However, there was a problem. At some point, last week, I found myself looking up a very different name and I can’t remember why I did so. That name was Jasper. It comes from the Greek and means keeper of the riches.
Amazingly enough, I find both names and their different meanings to be more than appropriate for my new daily companion. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Jocko, Jasper.
Yes, he is a crow. Shows up every morning somewhere between 7:30 and quarter of 9:00am. He sits atop a utility pole just outside the window next to my new desk and announces his presence with raucous caws. Sometimes, he flies around the building to serenade me from the fence just outside my bedroom window. Either way, he is bound and determined to make his presence known and felt.
Now to the issue of the appropriateness of his definitions (names). Many individuals find crows to be a negative nuisance, even dirty and nasty in some manner. But crows have a rich mythology and an even richer symbolism, if you are into that sort of thing.
There is a Native American story about the crow and how he came to be black all over. In the beginning he was a bird of bright rainbow plumage. Beautiful to behold, but because of all that admiration, he became arrogant. He hated his shadow because he felt it was dark and ugly, and refused to come out in daylight except at high noon when his shadow would not interfere with his beautiful appearance. If it did so, he would peck at it, trying to get it to leave or disappear. He continued to peck at it until one day, in a fit of retaliation, his shadow rose up and swallowed him whole. And the crow lost his beautiful rainbow plumage and has been totally black ever since.
The crow is closely related to the much larger raven. Both of them, because of their intense black coloring, are often seen as shape-shifters. Familiars to shamen, individuals who are closely acquainted with the Life/Death/Rebirth cycles of existence, and often believed to be shape-shifters in their own right, able to alter their physical beings to those of animals and the like.
Also in Native American spirituality, the crow is often seen as a symbol of higher law, that which exists above man made law.
We humans are imperfect at best. We all have flaws. Yet there are those who would believe that they should and can live above that reality, going so far as to think they can control others and use them to satisfy their own greed and need for some sense of power. That is what the Koontz series is all about: a man who believes he can remake humankind and do a much better job of it than any God. In the story, Jocko is a type of shape-shifter, able to do incredibly flexible things with his body. He hates himself, because he is one of a kind, a sort of rebirth from one of the above mentioned man’s creations. He is also the wonderful humor aspect I have come to expect in a Dean Koontz story, as well as playing a significant role in the defeat of the bad guy.
One who supplants is an individual who takes the place or position of another, as Jacob did in the story of he and his brother Esau. Or, as the black all over crow comes to take the place of that beautifully feathered bird that was first created. Man can make as many plans as he wants to, but higher law will eventually teach him the lesson of hubris that even the crow had to learn. And God will always love humankind.
So both names are seemingly appropriate. Here’s Jocko/Jasper in full cry.