Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Counting Crows



Raven – not crow, but in my books as potent. “Inquisition” by Larry Vienneau


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.”

Huh? What?

“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.

***   ***   ***

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for three years. Today I finally release it to the universe.

Inspired by the Daily Post, and re-inspired by Lois.

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.


Categories: Daily Post, Personal Growth

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51 replies

  1. I love it Maggie. Too bad you felt so much anxiety over it for all that time. Funny thing is I have always heard the counting crows expression but never knew what it meant! I don’t know whether to be glad or not. 😉Hawk is my totem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this. I’m a compulsive crow counter too although I think the made up meanings are silly. Crows (and more for me, magpies) are there to tell us something profound. And that’s not silly at all. lol. Peace of mind comes from random sources. Some of them seem a lot less random after a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. loved ur work and could help sharing this….from where i come its not the crows we count …its another bird called mynah…one means sorrow , two good luck , three guests at home , four good news , five wedding , six death …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never studied the totem animal mythologies or practices…although I have come across references to them in various books and films. I do have a brief recollection of the term ‘counting crow,’ but never knew what it meant.

    I think it’s fantastic that you’ve released this from your drafts folder…because of you…I learned something today!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I had known about totem animals from grade school, in the context of First Nations culture and totem poles, but that was all – and of course, by the time I met with Deborah, it had all been forgotten.

      Glad to share something new for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s interesting how if you are open to it, everything is interconnected, isn’t it? I used to see a LMT who was all about animal totems. She was fascinating and since then I’ve respected what comes to me, often when I least expect it, from the animal world around me. I can understand how/why crows had/have meaning for you. I’ve never paid any attention to them, but if they have meaning for you, then count away.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved this Maggie and more than just a little bit jealous. Your spirit animal chose you and you know what it is.
    My parents both had a deep fascination with crows – birds they felt were highly intelligent. Now that I think about it, there were always crows around my parent’s house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Joanne. What I love about living in the north is the Ravens – they make me smile every time I hear the “clonk” or the bark or however you want to describe the sound they make. The first morning we were here, I woke up to the most peculiar chuckling sound – it was a pair of ravens on the lawn, hunting for breakfast. I knew I would be OK here in Cobalt.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That is a woo-woo moment that makes you shiver, eh? You needed transformation and there was the Reiki practitioner to help you with your body and connect you with the spirit who was there all along. These are the moments that make us believe in the supernatural.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Susanne.

      Though, I must confess: on a subsequent visit to Deborah, she gave me homework which involved finding a tree and standing with it. Embracing it. Listening to it.

      I couldn’t bring myself to follow through. Too self-conscious. Plus, it was the dead of winter and my feet were cold!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. LOVE this post. Thank you for boldly sharing your woo-woo side, something I rarely have the courage to do on my own blog. I was intrigued by your comment at Lois’s.
    I seem to have two animal spirits — the cardinal, speaking to me since before I could even read — but in my 30s I began to dream of a crocodile. A wise, seemingly all-knowing crocodile who is perhaps a guide of sorts. I’ve written down every single crocodile dream. Maybe one day something will come of it.
    I never hear anything in reiki, I’m a seer. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s weird about why yesterday was the day for this post – I WAS going to write about how the cat got out and how I found him again, but this is the post that was written. I saw my power totem on Lois’ blog and that’s all it took, apparently.

      Frog and Horse are my pals, too, but to a lesser degree.

      So cool to know that you also experience the support of a power bird and croc! Thanks for that! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was fascinating, Maggie. I have never realized what my animal totem was, but you and the crow were definitely meant to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a wonderful post! I’ve never counted crows but I do watch them. I love the idea of a spirit animal, and especially love the idea that the crow chose you. I was told on my recent trip to Oaxaca that my spirit animal is a monkey. I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I will be looking out for them (I haven’t seen any so far 🙃). I’m so glad that you let this post fly free.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Glad you found out the crow totem means something positive in your life. Was The One a good relationship?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for sharing this interesting post with us. I have a couple of original crow paintings that I love, and think they are truly fascinating creatures. A Seattle film maker did a little documentary about them a while back that was illustrative of their intelligence. How lucky you are to have them for your totem animal.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That’s incredible Maggie. I wouldn’t have been able to sit on a post this moving for 3 years waiting for the perfect factors to coalesce.

    So glad I was around to catch this perfect storm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Know what? I think part of the reason it stayed in draft is because my brain was working overtime on science and math and technical stuff while I studied mine engineering. The “woo-woo” side of me was buried.

      Whatever reason the post did or did not get released, I’m delighted by your remarks. Thanks, Gabe.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m pathologically prompt, too, which makes my job of seeing patients in a timely manner incredibly painful to me -because docs are typically pathologically late (not always my fault). A patient once told me that my spirit animal was the hummingbird because I flittered about from room to room, visiting my flowers! I loved that.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love watching the crows in the park while walking our dog. Sometimes, there’s one on every lightstand on the baseball fields. At other times, there just one, sitting as high as he can be. I’ve never heard of counting crows, but that’s very interesting. I do believe there’s a connection between animals and people. It may be nothing more that the fact that they can put us in a better mood, or cause us to pause and recognize true beauty, but there’s something there. Thank you for sharing this Maggie.


    • As much as I find it difficult to comprehend, I believe there are people who do not “see” the natural world around them. They are caught up in their thoughts – “in their heads” – and, in my opinion, are isolated, or disconnected from the bounty of the universe. Of course, that’s on a subconscious level. We are all connected whether we “know it” or not. Thus endeth the sermon for today! Enjoy your Sunday, Dan!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Love your honesty! And yes, sometimes, we have to break free of the bad relationships in our lives….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ann. I’m very fond of the concept that it takes two to have a conflict. Ironically, it was one of the friends who dumped me who taught me this.

      I try to own my contribution to a bad relationship. I bring a suite of character traits and foibles to the mix. One thing I do is stay when I should leave. More to the point, I allow dicey friendships and partnerships to proceed in spite of signs that say, “DANGER! KEEP OUT!” It all goes south pretty quickly after that, but I don’t confront the other. Plus, there was the whole “til death do us part” thing.

      More to the point, I don’t confront myself, I don’t take care of myself. Well, I used to. I’m getting better and picking and choosing and confronting. Almost to the the other extreme!

      Let’s call it a work in progress. 🙂

      Which as my friend Karen says, “Progress, not perfection.”

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Just love it Maggie! As children we had two rhymes, and I’d always use ‘One for a wish’ instead of the nasty one. Love the way you’ve found another way of viewing the crow. You’ve come a long way!
    I always enjoy reading your posts, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Interesting post. I love that you dug this out of your drafts folder after such a long time. Thanks for the follow on my blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You remind me of a British (or maybe it’s only English–I have no idea) counting rhyme about magpies: One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl and four for a boy.” It goes on, but that’s all I know of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Hi
    Please credit Artwork
    Larry Vienneau
    Etching 2010,2018

    Liked by 1 person


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