By Molly Remer
A single crow flies across the treeline to my right. It is silent, though I can hear other crows calling from a distance. It crests the trees and begins to circle and wheel on widespread black wings in the open sky above the valley, in widening and then narrowing circles on invisible currents of air. I feel like a witness to a dance. I wonder at the perspective offered by soaring on open wings. I wonder what I can learn from this graceful, coasting presence soaring above me. Long moments pass and then crow drops out of my line of sight into the forest.
For a brief moment, the sky, the trees, and the air all feel completely still. I feel still too. My breath and mind slow, bearing witness to this quiet crow-dance. Then, I feel lucky—how fortunate that I stepped out at exactly this moment, otherwise I would have missed the dance completely. What if I hadn’t followed my impulse, hadn’t seen this? Then, I wonder how many other moments of magic I miss, indoors each day. Perhaps this exact moment, this exact experience, this exact dance, was at some level meant for me to see.
When I return indoors, I feel altered somehow. I have long said that when I need to feel magic in my life, I go outside and look for a bird.
I am going to listen to the crows this year, I decide.
Crows are plentiful in our area, but they have a particular way of catching my eye and my attention. I often wake to the sound of crows outside my bedroom window. One even woke me on a winter’s morning by dropping a composted baked potato skin, frozen solid, onto the roof of our house, where it rolled end over end to land with a thud on the back deck in a slightly accusatory fashion (better snacks are in order, lady!).
I watch them perching observantly in the trees above the compost pile. I spot them in the air, in fields, and on fence posts and trees while driving. While I don’t always know exactly what the crows are saying, I know to pay attention to them and to listen. I have often experienced them as an answer to a question, a message from the Goddess, and even just as a reminder of the simple magic in the air.
The sound or sight of a crow is always a sign for me to stop and pay attention—it becomes a self-reinforcing encounter with everyday magic. The crow is a trigger for me—listen, watch, look here, reflect, think, feel, experience, be here right now. And in so stopping, I often see or experience something magical, surprising, or significant. Whether or not magic is there already (out of my awareness) or it is merely the simple association with the crow as a sign to pay attention which causes me to look more closely and to develop associations, make connections, or notice symbols and make significance out of the mundane world, the end result is the same—I pause, notice, encounter, and experience, and the encounter itself becomes magic in that act of noticing and experiencing.
Crows have been associated with dark goddesses for millennia, particularly with The Morrigan, the ferocious Celtic Goddess-Queen of the battlefield. They are also associated with magic, prophecy, mysticism, death, and the Underworld. For me, they are a powerful symbol of everyday magic, a touchstone with spirit on the wing. Increasingly, though not reflected in ancient myths, over the course of this year, these clever black birds become a sign of Persephone to me: her answer to my questions, a breath of mystery over my shoulder, a nod, a nudge, an affirmation, a direct reply, a message above my head. Each crow—and especially three crows in a row—that I encounter feels like a connection with the Goddess, a connection to Persephone, the way in which she is speaking to me as my story labors into life.
Is it just a crow or is it Goddess on the wing, magic in the air, the weaving of life itself laid black against the sky? These crows guide the way into the next part of my own story, the next moment of meaning, and shape how I understand myself, my spirituality, and the everyday enchantment of the world itself. There are few things that set me back down into my bones again as firmly and insistently as a crow—present and witnessing, alert and alive, hopeful and inspired, aware and open.
In Burning Woman, Lucy H. Pearce writes:
For some she came in a dream. For others in words as clear as a bell: it is time, I am here. She may come in a whisper so loud she can deafen you or a shout so quiet you strain to hear. She may appear in the waves or the face of the moon, in a red goddess or a crow.
Crows are dark goddess symbols of myth, legend, prophecy, meaning, and mysticism. They are commonplace and ordinary and yet show up at exactly the right moment and in unexpected ways in flashes of acknowledgement. They have become part of the language of the divine to me, the way the Goddess speaks in the world. I like reclaiming dangerous symbols and reverting them back into symbols of power and magic, instead of fear or bad omens. The Goddess herself was nearly lost beneath negative imagery, associations, and accusations and crows too, gathered in murders as they do, have suffered from loss of reputation too—the subverting of their magic into something uneasy and mistrusted.
So, I call my spirit back on the wings of crows. I call magic back on the wings of crows. I invite everyday magic and mysticism to enliven my days and it arrives on the wings of crows. I invite the Goddess to speak to and through me and she speaks with crows.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Molly Remer is a priestess, creatrix, and teacher who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. She creates original goddess sculptures at Brigid’s Grove. She is the author of several books of poetry and non-fiction.
On the web
WALKING WITH PERSEPHONE: A JOURNEY OF MIDLIFE DESCENT AND RENEWAL BY MOLLY REMER, published by Womancraft Publishing (www.womancraftpublishing.com), paperback (299 pages).