Many moons ago (speaking of the full moon this weekend) I sought guidance from Deborah, the women who ran the weekly meditation classes held at the library. She was a Reiki practitioner as well as a shaman. I was going through one of those challenging periods… you know, relationship stuff, between me and just about everyone close to me.
This was a short time after I married The One. One after another, my closest friends dumped me. Some with spectacular “in your face” cruelty, others with equally cruel passivity. I guess they call that “ghosting” these days. Anyway, that’s all fodder for another story, that may or may not be told. Today, though, I want to tell you about my power animal, Crow.
As is usual for me, since I’m pathologically prompt, I arrived early for my appointment with Deborah. I sat in the parking lot that overlooked the snow-covered ground adjacent to the train tracks. The yard was littered with the garbage one finds in an urban centre such as this. The usual critters, squirrels, starlings, and a single crow skittered about, feasting on Doritos and banana peels.
I paid particular attention to the crow, because I had a love-hate relationship with the bird. Not that I’m superstitious (much) but because I was still in the habit of counting crows and interpreting the meaning of the numbers.
Let’s zip back for a moment to grade school when I prepared a talk for a public speaking assignment. My speech was based on a piece about crows and the significance of their numbers, up to flocks of ten, or was it twenty? I remember nothing about the speech-making experience, good, bad, or indifferent. I forgot most of the meanings: I remember only that one crow means bad luck or death, and two means good luck or love.
Ever since that pre-teen day to the moment I sat waiting for my Reiki appointment, I counted crows. If I happened to see only one, I desperately scanned the skies for number two, because, hey, who doesn’t prefer good luck and love over bad luck and death? I would say, 99% of the time, a single crow was joined by a mate. Relieved, I’d carry on with my day. I’d smile at my folly and tell myself it was all so much playful carrying-on.
One day, though, some years before my appointment with Deborah, I followed my mother’s casket out of the church into the still grey silence of that November morning. I felt compelled to look up. There, at the top of a towering spruce tree, perched a single, incredible, crow.
You might appreciate, then, while I waited for Reiki and counted precisely one cornchip-munching crow, I felt a mild but distinct pang of desperation that I could not will a second bird to appear. I focused hard and long on that bird and his glossy black feathers, a single quill poking askew from the rest.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Deborah pull into the lot. I gave my head a shake, and came back to the real world, and went inside the building.
During the Reiki treatment, I heard the crow cawing. This, from inside a windowless room in the centre of a refurbished warehouse. The noise registered, but I was in a different state of mind and did not feel strongly as I usually did when encountering a crow. After the treatment, Deborah and I sat and talked about the experience. She said, “So, I see that Crow is your totem.”
“I heard the crow calling as I was performing the treatment. Very powerful energy from Crow.”
I repeat: what?
I told her what I told you, about my counting crows speech, about the day at mom’s funeral.
“Crow was there, looking out for you,” Deborah said. She told me more about power animals or totems, and their meanings. She told me to pay attention. Pay attention to the little voices, to the signs, to the elements that repeat. For example, you might hear several references to “fox”. In images, in real life, the name of a radio station, foxy lady, that sort of thing. If there is a lesson, she said that it may not be immediately apparent, but with time, and often in hindsight, you will understand.
Call me crazy, but that little tidbit right there, allowing me to be OK with crows? Instant release of anxiety and a burden that I didn’t realize I was carrying. I know, a little “woo-woo” but there you have it.
As for the lessons learned from Deborah? She taught me about being stuck in bad relationships. About how it’s similar to being a fish caught in a net. You can’t move forward. You can’t move back. At least not without considerable pain. If you struggle to break free, it hurts like stink. So you sit, stuck. You’re alive, but you are not thriving. Then, come the moment to break free – holy hell it hurts. There is pain, if not blood. You are lost, you are alone, you are confused. But you are free to swim forward to heal and to, hopefully, learn from the experience.
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This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for three years. Today I finally release it to the universe.
Credit also to Susanne of Wuthering Bites – For my draft, I had cut and pasted this snippet from her post called Crow Magic.
The crow is a spirit animal associated with life mysteries and magic. The power of this bird as totem and spirit guide is to provide insight and means of supporting intentions. Sign of luck, it is also associated with the archetype of the trickster; be aware of deceiving appearances. If the crow has chosen you as your spirit or totem animal, it supports you in developing the power of sight, transformation, and connection with life’s magic.