Finding my animal guide has not been easy, and dare I say, I am not truly sure I have found it. Yet, a few experiences with the crow lead me to believe that I might have. First, let me acknowledge that, though I have been exposed to numerous resources on the subject, for some reason I have not taken the time to actually read any of the books that have been suggested to me. Perhaps it is because I am worried that the one who shows up will not suit my tastes, or maybe it is because I am afraid of what it will mean and the responsibility I will have toward it, such as allowing it to be my teacher. Regardless, it is an area I need to attend to.
So if I have not done the work, why do I think the crow may be my guide? Well, for several years now, crows have been gathering in large numbers around sunset near where I live. NPR did a story on this phenomenon that occurs in other cities. Though I don’t remember the entire story, I do remember that many of the townspeople in some of the areas tried to get the crows to leave by various means, seeing them as more of a nuisance than a magical sign. For me, I see the beauty and mystery in the cacophony of their gathering.
A few years ago, in early December, the night was misty and the crows were doing their thing; calling each other in, flying about, and settling in large numbers in the bare branches of the cityscape. I decided to stay, windows rolled down, taking in the crisp air and the magic that was before me. I was enchanted.
Earlier that year, I attended a Journeying workshop at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I was going through some issues in my life, and I was taking in all the medicine that I could. I had journeyed before, and had interesting experiences, but never had an animal guide show up. This time was a bit different. The facilitator had us do a visualization with a partner, then we were to journey with that person in mind. At the end, my partner in the experience offered me the gifts of the crow/raven and possibly a dove that had spoken through her. Aesthetically, I like the idea of these opposites, and my life has mirrored the duality of light and dark, too.
As a birder, I used to overlook crows on my outings, often mistaking them for some other, more sought-after bird. This was usually followed by my dismissal of them as “just crows”, and I would became a bit miffed that I had been duped by its far-off resemblance to a rare find. Birders in general do have a tendency to overlook the majesty of the common bird (once, as a new birder, I asked what that beautiful bird was in front of me, and was told, “That’s just a Common Yellow Throat Warbler”. But to a newbie birder like myself at the time, I thought it was just wonderful.).
Perhaps my spiritual growth can be found in an “everyday” bird.
On the blog, The Spiritual Self, author Anasopiah suggests that crows represent “Justice, shape shifting, change, creativity, spiritual strength, energy, community sharing, and balance” (Anasopiah, 2009). These qualities, even just the ring of them to my ears, makes my spine tingle. I want the crow as a totem, but want is not good enough. I think that it has to want me, too – and that there is a mutual respect and energy exchange. So while the crow seems to fit, I am cautious of being lulled into claiming it for the wrong reasons, or worse, finding out later that it did not choose me at all.
Because I like to dabble in poetry, I have attempted to write different pieces about the crow gatherings several times. One that I wanted to share is not accessible to me right now, but I do have one that I was able to find. It is called Sublimation, and upon rereading it before posting here, I noticed that I referenced ravens and not crows which makes me question if I had yet again dismissed the known for the seldom seen.
The title of the piece represents an energy exchange that is not only not wanted, but is also shocking and carrying mental weight. Often, I like to use scientific or philosophical concepts to represent psychological states of mind. Here is a definition from Wikipedia for Sublimation, “… is the process of transition of a substance from the solid phase to the gas phase without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. ” Something about the transition of substances feels similar to transitions in relationships.
For me, poetry not only comes from contemporary events in my life, but also from the arts such as music and visual art. Music wise, I was probably listening to Ante-Meridian on WCBE in Colubus, Ohio. Visually, I was inspired by an incredible Italian artist, Nicolletta Ceccoli. The piece below is called Crows and can be found on her website: http://www.nicolettaceccoli.com/index.html
Sublimation by Corina Klies circa Winter 2008
She walks through days
Lemon balm and lavender heavy in the air
Her lips are sweet like raspberry nectar,
I know because I kissed her once,
Back when we would hang together
Seems like so long ago, you know
Now, incense-infused nights
Fill her with wanderlust and
her feet never touch the ground
I Catch a glimpse of the
Tattooed vines that intertwine
Wrap themselves up her body
I think she is comforted by
Their mystery and the way
They instinctively ascend,
Envelop and caress her
Give her peace of mind
The way I never could
As she crosses my path, a breeze picks up
Plays With her charcoal hair
And all at once she is on her knees
A deep sadness falls upon her
And ravens fly free from her curly rivulets
She places her hands on her heart,
Almost as if she is scared it is no longer there
Taking a moment
She anoints herself
with ancient oils
Appoints herself the victor
Of an endless, unseen war
she makes with herself.
I watch her for a few more minutes
Stunned by what I have just seen,
I can only stare as waves of emotion wash over me
What am I feeling? Is this hers or mine?
Not sure what I have been a witness to
Not quite sure if it was real, but I was there
I saw her, and I felt it too
Should I go after her?
Should I see if she is ok?
Instinct says yes, but my feet won’t move
Can’t seem to get closer to her, never could, not really
She is on the move again,
She never was happy to stay in one place
Too long, didn’t even dust herself off
Or wipe away her tears, or look up to see who
Might have been watching,
she didn’t notice that I was watching
didn’t see that the ravens had perched in
the tree right above me
and now I touch the hollow place in my chest
The place where she once promised me everything