By, Ted Andrews; Animal Speak 1993
Keynote: The Secret Magic of Creation is Calling
Cycle of Power: All day - all year
A man once said that the crow was the smartest if birds, 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 intrigue 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, one 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 study 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 magic 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 state of substance-unformed but full of potential.
In Roman mythology raven and crows used to be as white 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 magic and creation every day.
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 has 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 magic and creation are cawing out to us every day.
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 magic. The male crow sets out to make itself as handsome as possible, and it is during this time that its voice takes on a singing quality. (Loven makes the whole world sing.) The male and female build the nest together. The nest is built high up for protectionn and it is kept very clean.
Even young crows do not foul their own nest. 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 magical, 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 a symbol of solitude. To the Athapaskan Indians of Alaska, a crow (in the form of 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 create and manifest the magic of life. They are messengers calling to us about the creation and magic that is alive within our world everyday and available to us.