Crooning With the Crows
The following is an article I wrote in 2006 for a magazine in which I was a contributer.
Crooning With the Crows
One crow sorrow.
Two crows joy.
Three crows a letter.
Four crows a boy.
Five crows silver.
Six crows gold.
Seven crows a secret never to be told.
We’ve all heard that at some point but the biggest susperstition we all have heard is that to see a crow is to foretell a death. But there is so much more to the crow than that, however,
most are so afraid of the crow, they can’t open their eyes to see!
Crows are amazing birds but yet they are the most misunderstood. I have always been surrounded by them not realizing that not every one sees them as much as I do. It wasn’t until I
went on a few road trips with friends that I learned that. My friends commented they had never seen so many Crows before, and in fact my friend Leann said she never saw so many animals
while driving through the Rockies until she drove through with me. Those comments from my friends made me pause and think. Why are there so many Crows around me if this is unusual?
What is the lesson? What are they telling me? Am I hearing it or am I missing it?
These events happened before I began working with Energy and Spirits. Now, many years later, I have the answers to all my questions and more. And each time I see a Crow, I am very grateful. However, not everyone is as happy to see a Crow! And looking at the superstitions involving them it is no wonder! Let’s take
a look at some shall we!
· In Scotland, a raven circling a house was said to predict the death of someone within.
- Crows in a church yard are bad luck.
- A single crow over a house meant bad news, and often foretold a death within. "A crow on the thatch, soon death lifts the latch."
- It was unlucky in Wales to have a crow cross your path. However, if two crows crossed your path, the luck was reversed. "Two crows I see, good luck to me" .
- In New England to see two crows flying together from the left was bad luck.
- When crows were quiet during their midsummer's molt, some European peasants believed that it was because they were preparing to go to the Devil to pay tribute with their black feathers.
- Two crows would be released together during a wedding celebration. If the two flew away together, the couple could look forward to a long life together. If the pair separated, the couple might expect to be soon parted.
- The French had a saying that evil priests became crows, and bad nuns became magpies.
- The Greeks said "Go to the Crows" the same way we would say "Go to Hell."
- The Romans used the expression "To pierce a Crow's eye" in relation to something that was almost impossible to do.
- An Irish expression, "You'll follow the Crows for it" meant that a person would miss something after it was gone.
- The expression, "I have a bone to pick with you" used to be "I have a crow to pick with you". Not all superstitions are so dark and foreboding! Here are a few positive ones:
- Crows have been used for the purpose of divination since the time of ancient Rome.
- Finding a dead crow on the road is good luck.
· Ravens are considered royal birds. Legend has it King Arthur turned into one.
· Alexander the Great was guided across the desert by two ravens sent from heaven.
· The Tower of London houses ravens, and has for over 900 years. It is said that if the ravens ever leave the Tower, England will fall. Or, to be more exact, if they leave the Tower, the Tower
will fall - and since the tower is (theoretically at least) tied to the crown of England, the Crown will fall - and if the Crown falls, then the Country shall fall, too.
· If a raven perches on a house in Wales, it will bring prosperity to the family within.
Some cultures include Crows in their traditional creation stories. For example, the Celts (and many others) saw the Crow as the creator and sometimes saviour, of man. According to legend,
Crow made mankind, brought them salmon to eat, stole fire from the sun so mankind wouldn't freeze, brought them water to drink during a drought, and taught man to enjoy life. However a lot of
North American Native Tribes see the Crow as the Trickster, always playing tricks and changing shape. With such a variety and mixed view of this beautiful bird, it is no wonder people look unkindly
Let’s take a look at some actual facts of both Crows and Ravens. Since crows are sometimes confused and interchanged for Ravens and a lot of the folklore refers to Ravens specifically, we will
take a look at them too. Both belong to the Corvid family which also includes Magpies and Blue Jays.
The Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is a common black bird found all over the world. They are approximately 17 inches (40 cm) long at maturity (the size of a Pigeon), and the wingspan is
40 inches (1 meter). They are black all over however; the Carrion Crow (hooded Crow) may have some grey or white in the shoulders and back. They lay 4-7 eggs which are a greenish blue, with
brown markings. The Common Crow is found throughout North America and the Carrion Crow is found throughout Europe. They adapt easily to a variety of habitats, and thrive in cities. They live
5-10 years, living longer in the city and less in the countryside where they have more predators and environmental hazards. A flock of Crows is called a Murder.
The Raven (Corvus Corax) is the largest of the Corvid Family also found worldwide. They are about 27 inches (65 cm) long at maturity (the size of a Hawk) with a wingspan of 50-60 inches
(1.2 -1.5 meters). They are a glossy blue-black or purplish black. They also lay 4-7 eggs however they are greenish with brown blotches. Ravens prefer the country and can live much longer than
the Crow, to about 25-50 years. A flock of Ravens is called an Unkindness.
Ravens are often confused with Crows, but they differ in a few ways. Ravens are much larger with more angular feathers and tails. Crows prefer to be around humans and cities whereas Ravens
prefer wilder areas. And their calls are different; the Raven’s is deeper hoarser â€œKaugh!â€ where the Crow is a nasal â€œCaw!â€ Ravens have also been known to imitate a variety of other sounds.
My love affair with Crows began well over fifteen years ago when I went to Parrsboro on a regular basis with my friend Vivien. She would watch them and if we came across a Crow that was hit by a car,
she would stop, collect it, and give it a â€œburialâ€. As a result, I began to watch them too. Then I began hearing the above mentioned comments from other friends. It seemed as though everywhere I went,
I would find a number of Crow feathers, so much so I now have a lifetime supply of feathers for various craft projects, including making Smudge Feathers, and Dream Catchers, and anything else that comes
along. I have them in my car and all over the house, in vases, and stuck in plants.
Many years ago, I found myself walking along in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, NS pondering a situation, wondering what to do. I found myself in the position of having to make a decision as to what to
do with my current relationship. I was walking along; I spotted a Crow feather and picked it up. A little further down, I spotted another Crow feather and picked that one up too. As I was walking, I was
playing with the feathers, twisting them between my fingers. At one point, for no reason at all, I happened to look down and take a look at the feathers I was carrying with me. I happened to notice they
were both wing feathers, but one was from the left wing and the other was from the right wing! Then it hit me! The crows were giving me a message and the message was to fly free! Well, that was it!
And that is exactly what I did and I have never looked back!
Shortly after that incident, I moved into a little house in an older part of Dartmouth, NS. My backyard had a lot of especially tall fir trees, and one of them housed a Crow’s nest. I loved hearing them
first thing in the morning (ya, I know, you probably can’t stand that!). As I sat on my deck, they would fly overhead back and forth, back and forth. Sometimes they flew so low I could
hear the swooshing of their wings. That sound always took my breath away!
One morning as I was unlocking my car door to go to work I heard a very clear, distinct â€œHi!â€. I looked over to my neighbors’ house and saw no one. I looked to the street and again saw no one. I looked
all around me and no one was there. Just as I was beginning to think I imagined it, I heard it again â€œHi!â€ And this time it sounded as though it came from above! I looked up and on the wires was sitting
a Crow! Well, I said â€œHi!â€ back and smiled. That Crow greeted me every morning for quite some time. To this day, when I see a Crow land near me, I will say hello to it. Of course any people that are
within ear shot think I am talking to them until they look and see me looking up!
I am not the only person who loves Crows. Another friend named Vivian feeds her Crows and has then named. One she named Edgar Allan Crow, yes after Edgar Allan Poe, the poet who wrote
â€œThe Ravenâ€. Whenever she fed them, she would make a clicking noise, and they have since learned to make that clicking noise when they want food!
Crows are very intelligent indeed! In fact they have quite an interesting language of their own. If we paid attention to them, we can learn that language. Why bother? Well, we would be able to get
a more accurate weather prediction than the Weather Man can give!
Now back to Vivian. She noticed something very interesting one day after feeding the Crows for about 7 years. She noticed one in particular was getting old and he had gray streaks. One day the
old Crow brought a new young and shiny Crow and taught him how to forage on her deck. Once the new young Crow got the hang if it, she never saw the old one again. Sad, but also very incredible!
My friend Phyllis also enjoys the Crows. She particularly enjoys watching the Crows chat to her cat Skittles, then Skittles talks back, but then the Crows get louder and then Skittles gets scared and
runs into the house! Can you say scaredy cat!! Phyllis also feeds her Crows and they visit her quite often in her dreams! She fully believes that Spirits can come as Crows as this was shown to her in
her tarot readings.
This morning my friend Sylvia called me all excited! There were about fifty Crows in her backyard squawking away! It was so loud I could hear it over the phone. However, hearing all that noise made
my heart sad. I moved to a new house last October and there aren’t very many crows around here. The main occupant of this area is the Sea Gull and sadly, Sea Gulls and Crows are not friends!
Now whenever I see the odd Crow in the area I say thanks and that I am happy to see them.
Did you know that both the Crow and the Raven were originally white? In one particular Greek tale, Coronis, the daughter of Phlegyes became pregnant by Apollo. Apollo left a white crow to watch
over her, but just before the baby was born, Coronis married Ischys. The Crow informed Apollo of the marriage and of course, he was not very happy about this. As a result, he killed both Coronis and
Ischys and turned the Crow black for being the bearer of bad news. The tale continues that Apollo retrieved the unborn child at the funeral, and that this child was Aesclepius, the father of medicine.
There are many sides to the Crow and Raven. As mentioned above, the Crow/Raven is a nurturer, giving life, sacrificing himself to ensure the happiness of others. He is seen as the trickster which
can also bring laughter to people’s lives and perhaps teach them to laugh at themselves when appropriate. He is a shape-shifter, which can bring great changes in people’s lives (as I personally have
seen). He gathers information and shares secrets, and is always seeking the Truth. He is the epitome of opposites â€“ both black and white, sorrow and happiness, passing along knowledge and keeping
secrets. He is, and he is not.
Hopefully, after reading through all these amazing facts and stories you will have warmed up to them and maybe someday you will be able to appreciate them as much as I do! And Crows, if you are
listening, please come to my new yard! I miss hearing your call, and your early morning singing. I would love to have you here, so I can croon with you once again!
copyright - Angela Jeffreys 2006
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Photo courtesy of Marc Geuzinge Photography www.marcgeuzinge.photoshelter.com "Raven in Banff"