Winter in the Appalachian Mountains and hills can get pretty cold and dark at night. This is when folks stay inside, stoke up the fires and gather round the hearth for warmth. Often someone will begin telling stories -- sometimes the stories can get scary enough to send chills down the spine and make hair on the arms of listeners rise in a field of goosebumps. One such story is about the Raven Mocker, a creature one hopes never in their life time to come in contact with.
Yet long before that hearth was there for light and warmth of the fire to give them some comfort, long before the cabins were built, and even long before the early settlers of the areas came, the Cherokee and Catawba tribes passed down the story of the Raven Mocker, or ka'lanu ahkyeli'ski, to the people who shivered under blankets around a fire pit and looked around them to the dark forests and woods.
They looked up to the sky, hoping for a bright moon to shine a little more light upon them -- for in the darkness they could not see what was coming. And they would not see till the dreaded noise, like a wild and rushing wind tearing through the trees and village, that made even the strongest warrior tremble, was passing too near them, leaving a trail of sparks behind as it swept down from the darkened sky, its wing-like arms stretching out in preparedness to grasp hold of the intended victim.
Man, woman, or beast, the creature was not distinguishable as to what it really was -- it was the most feared of all the witches that roamed the hills and valleys at night. It is old and withered with all the lives it has stolen to add years to its own. When the Raven Mocker came, the people knew someones life was about to end. Screeching like a raven it would make it's way to the home of a sick or dying person.
If a medicine man or woman was in the village, he or she would stand guard at the entrance to the home where the Raven Mocker was heading. The medicine person would need strong, very strong, medicine to ward off the attacks, for there were usually more than one Raven Mocker coming for the victim. They knew a life was about to end and they wished to speed it up so the heart could be taken out and eaten, thereby adding time to their own life.
Only a powerful medicine man or woman can save the victim. If this medicine person can recognize the shape of a Raven Mocker, it is like a curse to the witch -- for the Raven Mocker will then die in seven days.
The Raven Mocker is invisible, so it is only the right medicine man or woman who can see them. If another person is in the room watching over the sick person, they cannot see the creatures. Often, when a Raven Mocker arrives, there are others of the same kind. They torment and abuse the sick person with frightening threats and attempts to strangle. The persons watching over the sick person only think the patient is gasping for air or in pain. The Raven Mockers, in order to eat the heart, must frighten the sick person to death. For they must take the heart before the body is buried. No outward sign or marks are left on the body when the heart is taken, for the magic of the invisible witches is powerful. There is no wound or scar where the heart was taken out.
Other witches are very jealous of the Raven Mocker for the power and magic they possess. When a Raven Mocker dies, other witches will dig it up from it's grave to beat and abuse the body. Such is the hate and jealously so strong.
This is a legend of old, from long, long ago. The legend is sometimes still told on cold winter nights and people still shiver when they hear of the Raven Mocker. Many no longer believe the legend is true -- yet the sick are never left alone.