Over the last month or so, I have been noticing large numbers of crows in my area. Absorbed in thought and observation as I walk in nature, I hear them call out, their raucous, throaty voices capturing my attention and making a mark on my consciousness.
A few weeks ago, I felt compelled to re-read Robert Bly’s short but very important book, “A Little Book on the Human Shadow”. I requested it from the library, and immediately upon beginning to read, an intense emotion, as deep as a thrill, struck my heart. In the very first chapter, at the end of the very first paragraph of the book, poet Bly declares:
“We notice that when sunlight hits the body, the body turns bright, but it throws a shadow, which is dark. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Each of us has some part of our personality which is hidden from us. Parents, and teachers in general, urge us to develop the light side of the personality – move into well-lit subjects such as mathematics and geometry – and to become successful. The dark part then becomes starved. What do we do then? We send out a crow.” (my emphasis)
This first paragraph is followed by a poem by Bly evoking the well-known story following the biblical flood, in which Noah, as the waters began to recede, sends out a dove to search for evidence of dry land. In fact, before the dove was sent, a crow was sent on this same mission. The crow evokes groundedness into the Earth, into the feminine, and into the darker side of self. All of the passions and emotions that we do not accept individually and collectively are embodied by the crow. The power of our bodies, our sexuality, the consciousness of the Earth herself, the wisdom of plants and trees, the truth and reality of the multi-dimensional nature of the planet and the human being…all of these are the domain of the crow and its corresponding symbol, the missing holy grail.
Our culture, by pushing the feminine and the qualities she embodies into the shadow, is reflected in the story of Noah. This story clarifies how the triumph of the dove creates unbalance. We choose to live in the light, but we are burdened by an immense shadow. We don’t understand how there is so much violence and disrespect in our culture and in the behaviors of individuals. Symbolically, in the Noah story, we can see the disastrous consequences of the failure of the crow to come back down to Earth and be consciously present and represented in our cultural practices, minds, and hearts.
The crow is a totem animal that is frequently evoked as a powerful shamanic spirit traveling between dimensions. Soul retrieval is the equivalent of shadow work, as the shaman travels between dimensions, usually between the daylight of our “solid” third dimension to the subconscious hold-all of the fourth dimension. The fourth dimension, where we often travel during dream-time, gathers both darkness and light. It is in this dimension in which most of our fears and unrealized desires dwell. When we are abused, hurt, damaged in some way, we lose some of our personal power and energy. These shards of being, of self, are spirited away into another dimension, into which we no longer have conscious access. Survival and self-preservation provoke this relinquishment of these pieces of self. To return to the 360 degree being that we are promised upon birth requires that we travel into these alternate dimensions in order to recover the energetic fragments of our consciousness that we have given up.
It takes courage to retrieve these parts of self, and it takes courage to look into our own shadow as well as into the shadow of the collective. The crows are physically present at this time to help us in this process. As the grail or the divine feminine returns and offers herself and her services to allow us to live more powerfully and more responsibly, we must look inward and stop pushing away that which is dark, deep, intimate.
The grail is often depicted as a cup or chalice. The cup is a feminine shape, receptive, containing, possibly representing the woman’s body or womb. Our culture and society have actively persecuted and rejected the power of the feminine creative source for thousands of years. The power of the feminine is a part of ourselves that has been suppressed in order to benefit a power structure that did not want to see us empowered or responsible creators of our own realities. And so we have all been living in a reduced capacity, in a co-dependent, victim-bully relationship and in a paradigm based on duality and separation from a key part of our most profound self.
The return of the crows is a crucial sign for humanity, as the crows have touched down and made physical contact with the Earth. They bring us back evidence of the dark loamy soil of a conscious planet ready for ascension. Do we choose to accept the challenge? Do we finally as a society begin to understand that the stories of the ancients were in fact truths and not myths? That centaurs, unicorns, sprites, giants, fairies, elves, witches and wizards are real beings living on a more coherent, higher frequency dimension, and that because we have dropped to a lower, more chaotic frequency, it is simply fact that we can no longer perceive them? At least not until we raise our own frequency and begin to vibrate at a higher level…
The crows are our teachers and guides. They are here to help us find the pieces of self that we have thoughtlessly scattered and lost. They are here to help us become aware and to bring back meaning to our lives. They are here to help us to remember who we really are and how much we dream of living with purpose and integrity. Without the crow, the dove cannot create peace. Just as the Chinese yin-yang symbol depicts two interlocking tear drops of black and white, each containing a drop of the other’s “blood”, so do the dove and crow need one another to create balance. Without the divine feminine energies of receptivity, creative power, patience, dark brooding, intuition, physicality and sexuality, the divine masculine energies cannot alone produce a world that is livable, just, or sustainable.
We are now in a place where the world in which we live has become intolerable for all but a very few. There is and has been an agenda designed to destroy the planet and all of the beings who live upon Gaia if those in power can no longer reign imperiously and without consequence, plundering the Earth, humanity, the animal and plant kingdoms. It is up to us, as human beings, to return to the flow and to the power that is our birthright. The only way that we can accomplish this is to unplug from the brainwashing programs that have been designed to keep us shattered, asleep, powerless, fearful, and in pain. The crows have come to gently awaken us and to show us all that we have given up. It will be a rude awakening for many, but the rewards will be great once we begin to work together to create realities which benefit all beings.
I recommend reading Robert Bly’s “A Little Book on the Human Shadow”, and anything by Marie-Louise Von Franz. Bly speaks of Franz on page 54 of the Harper edition:
“Marie Louise von Franz says somewhere that a human being who has done work with the shadow or absorbed the shadow gives a sense of being condensed. Other people willingly give him or her some authority in moral matters. If a teacher has worked with his own shadow, she says that students, no matter how young they are, sense it, and discipline in that room will not be difficult, because the students know that the teacher has his crow with him.” (my emphasis)
I also recommend reading “To the Bright Edge of the World” by Eowyn Ivey, an intercultural tale which brings forth the tension between European culture in America and that of the indigenous tribes, whose reality still very much included the magical dimensions. In this wonderful novel, among many threads and story lines, the shaman (who shape shifts into a crow) steals an unborn fetus from a white woman while her husband is exploring the wilds of Alaska. The child is then delivered by its father, from the Earth and the roots of a tree in a great gush of blood. Adopted by native tribes-people, the child grows up to mediate between the two cultures.