Crow & Raven Totem


Keynote: the Secret Magic of Creation is calling

Cycle of power: all day—all year

from Ted Andrew’s Animal-Speak

My grandfather once told me that the crow was the smartest of all birds. What’s more it even knew it was the smartest of birds and enjoyed it to the fullest. In fact it was so smart that it chose to stay a crow, rather than move on to some other area of evolution. It has a unique ability to outwit most birds, animals, and even humans at times, and they make for themselves a wonderful living. It can be thought of as another being who felt it was better to rule in hell than serve in heaven Crows seem to have mastered it well.

Crows intrigues us and they aggravate us. They and their other family member, the raven, have a great mysticism and mythology about them. There are actually five species of crows, on of which is the raven. Because they are of the same family (the only real difference being in size) it would be beneficial for those with crow as a totem to also stuffy the qualities and mystical aspects of the raven.

The first noticeable characteristic about this bird is its striking black color. Sometimes it will have hints of deep blue and purple on the feathers as well. Black is the color of creation. It is the womb out of which the new is born. It is also the color of the night. Black is the maternal color and thus the black night gives birth to a new day. Although the crow is a diurnal or daytime bird, it reminds us that magick and creation are potentials very much alive during the day. The crow, because of its color, was a common symbol in medieval alchemy. It represented “nigredo,” the initial substance—unformed but full of potential.

In Roman mythology raven and crows use to be as whit as swans. In fact a white crow watched over Apollo’s pregnant lover at Delphos. One day the crow brought bad news to Apollo and was turned black.

This connection to watchfulness is still strong today. Crows always have a sentinel posted. They build their nests high in the treetops so that they can see the entire area in which they are living and feeding. Occasionally crows have been seen attacking and killing one of their own. There arose an old belief that the crow being attacked was a sentinel who failed. It may also be a reminder of what can happen if we are not watching for magick and creation everyday.

Watchfulness warns other crows and other animals of intruders and threats—human and animal. They have been observed raising a ruckus when hunters are around, warning deer and other birds. They recognize possible dangers and they always post lookouts when feeding—their most vulnerable time.

This ability to warn is connected to the crow’s second, most-noticeable characteristic—its voice. The crow is actually a member of the songbird family because of its voice box structure. Although few think of the crow as a songbird, there have been many claims (unsubstantiated) over the years that when it is alone, it will sing in a soft musical voice.

Crows have a complex language. They have a remarkable voice range, but they actually do not sing. They can caw in many different ways, each with its own meaning. Learning to understand the language of crows is something we all can do with practice. Although it ahs a tongue, it does not use the tongue to make any sounds. Pliny once wrote that if the tongue of a crow were split, it would learn to speak like humans. This, of course, was not true. All that would happen is that the crow bleeds to death. The cawing out of the crow should remind us that magick and creation are “cawing” out to us everyday.

The great horned owl is probably the most deadly enemy of the crow. If an owl comes into the area of a crow it will mob the owl and chase it off. Crows know that if the owl discovers its nests, the night could bring death. Many crows have lost their life to the silent night hunts of owls.

The crow has great intelligence. It is adaptable to its environment. It will eat almost anything part of their ability to survive is their being omnivorous. They have a unique ability to communicate with each other and to work together.

Their ability for watching and their intelligence has given them a reputation for thievery. They will rob food from other birds or whatever source is around—including human food supplies.

Crows and all corvines are easily imprinted with the image of their keeper. Those who have had crows as pets have found them extremely trainable, with an ability to count and develop a complex communication with their owner. And yet in the wild, even though they are constantly seen and heard, it is hard to get near them. Again I have found that it reflects for most people little awareness or realization of the magic necessary to create or recreate their life.

The courtship and mating procedures also reflect much about the crow’s association with magick. The male crow sets out to make himself as handsome as possible, and it is during this time that its voice takes on a singing quality. (Love makes the whole world sing.) The male and female build the nest together. The nest is built high up for protection and it is kept very clean. Even young crows do not foul their own next. A little meditation on this will reveal much about health, home and respect.

Crows have a great mythology about them. This can reflect not only past-life connections to those times and cultures but it also reflects some of the archetypal forces that it can connect with us. As with many animals, crows also have been known to predict tornadoes, rain, and other changes in weather by the way they fly. Working with crows can help you to see how the winds are going to blow into your life and how to adjust your own life flights. Crows have long been considered magickal, and my grandfather once told me how even finding a dead crow was a sign of good luck.

We have spoken of crows and their link to Greek/Roman mythology, but they have appeared in others as well. In China, a three-legged sun crow was worshiped. It was symbol of solitude. To the Athapaskan Indians of Alaska, a crow (in the form of a raven) was the creator of the world. To the Celts, the crow was also associated with creation. In biblical lore, the prophet Elijah was fed by ravens and crows while hiding in the wilderness. In the Norse tradition, the god Odin had two ravens who were his messengers.

Wherever crows are, there is magic. They are symbols of creation and spiritual strength. They remind us to look for opportunities to crate and manifest the magick of life. They are messengers calling to us about the creation and magick that is alive with our world everyday and available to us.


Keynote: Magick, Shapeshifting, and Creation

Cycle of Power: Winter Solstice

The raven is one of those birds that has a tremendous amount of lore and mythology surrounding it, and it is often contradictory. It is a bird of birth and death, and it is a bird of mysticism and magick.

In the near East, the raven was considered unclean—because it is a scavenger. It is one of the foods listed as forbidden in the bible. The raven is one of the birds that Noah sent out after the foods, but it did not
return to the ark. On the other hand, also in biblical lore is the tale of how a raven fed the prophet Elijah when hiding from King Ahab.

In Scandinavian lore, the raven played a significant role. The Norse god Odin had a pair of ravens who were his messengers. Their names were Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory). Odin was known to shapeshift as a raven himself. This reflects the idea of raven being a messenger of the great spiritual realm.

The raven has a long history of being an omen. During the Middle Ages the croak of the raven was believed to foretell a death or the outcome of a battle. It was even taught to the common folk in Christian communities that wicked priests became ravens when they died. Even today, some old timers tell how you can expect hot weather when a raven is seen facing a clouded sun.

The raven is a member of the Corvids family, to which belong crows and magpies and other such birds. In truth, the only really significant difference between the crow and the raven is in size, the raven being much larger. It would be beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as a totem. Much of the same information that applies to one, also applies to the other, it is a simply a matter of degree. Rather than repeat that information here, I would like to give you some information not generally associated with the crow itself.

The raven has a wealth of myth and lore surround it. In many ways it is comparable to the coyote tales of the Plains Indians, The Bushmen talks of the mantis and other societies in which an animal plays both a significant and yet confusing role. The coyote was both trickster and wise being—fool and wise one. This was true of the mantis in the tales of the Kalahari Bushmen.

In the Pacific Northwest, the raven has the same aura about him. In the Pacific Northwest, raven brought forth life and order. Raven stole the sunlight from one who would keep the world in darkness. Nothing could exist without raven. Raven is honored in art and on totem poles, reflecting the tales and mysticism that have developed around it.

With raven, human and animal spirits intermingle and become as one. This is reflected in its deep, rich shiny black. In blackness, everything mingles until drawn forth, out into the light. Because of this, raven can help you shapeshift your life or your being. Raven has the knowledge of how to become other animals and how to speak their languages.

Ravens are great at vocalizations, and they can be taught to speak. They incorporate and mimic the calls of other species. In the Northwest are tales of the Kwakiutl Indians who offered the afterbirth of male newborns to Raven so that when they grew up, they would understand their cries. Raven can teach you to understand the language of animals.

Ravens are playful and they are excellent tool users. They will use stones and anything else that is available to help them crack nuts and such. They are birds not intimidated by other, and they are very fast and wary. Because of this they are not easy prey for other animals or birds. This implies the ability to teach you how to stir the magick of life without fear. They are also known for their amorous behavior, reflecting the strong creative life force to which they have access.

This creative life force can be used to work the magick of spiritual laws upon the physical plane. It can be used to go into the void and stir the energies to manifest that which you most need. All this and more is what raven teaches. If raven has come into your life, expect magic. Somewhere in your life, magick is at play. Raven activates the energy of magick, linking it with your will and intention.

Raven speaks of the opportunity to become the magician and/or enchantress of your life. Each of us has a magician within, and it is Raven which can show us how to bring that part of us out of the dark into the light. Raven speaks of messages from the spirit realm that can shapeshift your life dramatically. Raven teaches how to take that witch is unformed and give it the form you desire.

The Winter Solstice and Winter Season is the time of greatest power for those with the raven as a totem. The solstice is the shortest day of the year. The sun shines the least on this day, thus it is the darkest. From that day forth, the light shines a little more each day. This is symbolic of the influence of raven it teaches how to go into dark and bring forth the light. With each trip in, we develop the ability to bring more light out. This is creation.

Here is “Crow Song” by Brent Law, flute and drum for courage and strength.

Blessings, xo emery


About this entry