Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting for Crow

What an amazing summer I had! A little more than a week into the season, the ties that bound me to an adventure upon which I had embarked with great anticipation and joy were severed irrevocably, with almost equal anticipation and joy. Tempered by exhaustion and frustration, because that venture had almost proven my utter undoing. I felt lucky to get out (mostly) alive.

For nearly three months, with a couple of unfortunate yet unavoidable lapses, I’ve gone about the business of regaining my strength—with a vengeance. If one could be said to be “aggressively resting,” that is what I’ve been doing. It wasn’t easy, at first, to shed the habit of the perpetual “to-do” list. Once out from under the never-ending, ever-increasing “Things I’ve Gotta Do To Stay In Business” list, I merely replaced it with “Things I’m Gonna Do Now That I Have A Life Again.” When that list started to weigh like a cement block around my neck, I figured it was time for a really fresh start. So I packed up my mess kit and went camping.

Not long into that adventure, I discovered I had sneaked yet another list into my baggage: “Things I’m Gonna Do On My Vacation.” When The Universe decided to rip that list out of my hands and lead me to the things I really needed, I finally got that making lists is not what I’m supposed to be doing.

It’s been hard, though. I don’t know HOW to not do anything. I was never very good at it, and then I spent five years immersed in an orgy of busy-ness. I’ve been on “fast-forward” so long, I think my “stop” button shorted out. So…yes. Do nothing? Wait for The Universe to give me what I need? It’s like quitting…something…cold turkey. Possible, yes. But neither simple nor particularly pleasant.

Even the thing I was convinced was on The Universe’s agenda for me—to study up and choose a spiritual path—turned out not to be part of The Greater Plan at all, but rather a by-product of my own inability to relinquish control. It seems I’ve been basically told to “Cool it.” The information and the guidance will come when the Spirit decides. So I have sat back and waited. But not without feeling guilty about it.

I’m never sure if my reticence to jump headlong into alternative spirituality is a result of my waiting upon the Universe, or of my own hang-ups. Though I feel drawn to animal spirits and shamanism, I’m still very much bound to not only old mainstream religion, but “fact” and “science,” as we Westerners have learned to worship them as well. It’s extremely difficult to break through half a century of “knowing” that animals don’t speak, and animals don’t have souls, and animals are somehow dependent upon the aegis of human beings for their very lives. I can look into the eyes of a crow and almost hear its message for me…and suddenly a little voice in the back of my head somewhere will taunt, “What do you think you’re doing? It’s just a crow.”

Yet I know Crow is one of my Spirit Guides, if not my power animal. Alone one night on my camping vacation, when my sister and her husband went home to take care of some business, I was determined to indulge in a ritual about which I had read, but had not yet attempted. I built a fire and enjoyed my solitary meal while gazing into the friendly flames. After I finished eating, I dug into my jewelry bag and pulled out…my rattle. An artisan-crafted ceramic rattle, carved in the shape of a crow. The books I’ve read mention rattling, drumming or chanting while meditating, to court contact with the Spirit World in general and Spirit Guide animals in particular. So I sat by my fire, closed my eyes, shook my rattle and tried to empty my mind. Tried to concentrate. Asked for a guide. Rattled and emptied, meditated and asked.

I’d like to say something magical and mysterious happened. I’d like to say that I had a dream or a vision, or that I was visited by some great insight. But mainly, I felt…silly. Sheepish. That little voice in the back of my head was having a field day. “What DO you think you are DOING? Rattling? Puh-leez!”

I was determined not to let that voice dissuade me. I kept at it, for what I guessed was an appropriate amount of time to do justice to the ritual. Until my fire dwindled to a few flickering flames. Then I scattered the coals, stowed my rattle, and went to bed. Thinking a Dream might be wonderful, but not really believing it would come. And it didn’t.

But the next day, I drove to the beach with a loaf of bread for the gulls. I got out of the car, sat at a picnic table, and was immediately surrounded. Not by gulls, but by…

Crows. There must have been a dozen, maybe fifteen. No gulls. Just crows.

Now, I’ve been throwing bread for birds at beaches for decades. And this was the first time ever that only a mob of crows showed up for the party.

I can’t explain it. But The Universe can.

And It will. In time.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (This time with less typos:)

    Oh, this is wonderful!!! Congratulation on taking that first step.

    I find that if I "concentrate" to hear something, I hear nothing because my head is full of the "concentrating."

    My best visualization is to imagine there is a gentle underground stream, below the surface of the earth, and if I listen very gently, I hear its very quiet trickle. The messages I get when I journey or try to communication come as gentle as that whisper. They do not come loud and announce themselves (usually) and trying to force receiving only blocks receiving (does that make sense?).

    Also, and this is just personal for me, I find a drum much more helpful than a rattle for journeying. I think the rattle is too "loud" in some way and keeps me distracted. But that's just me.

    Oh, did I mention every day I wear a pendant that has a crow on one side, a turtle on the other... and that we have two crows etched inside our Joining rings? :-)

  3. Lisa, this is just cool. All I can say is listen.