The Way of the Crow



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Well, the cows were headed the opposite way I needed to go, so after awhile I decided to go on (keeping a close eye on that bull though). I got to within a hundred yards of the far fence, when there was a ditch, and a marshy area on the other side of it. I found a fairly dry place to cross the ditch, but there was no way to avoid the marshy spot, and I wasn't about to go back all the way around, since the hospital was only on the other side of the fence and across the road.

So I slogged on through - good thing I was wearing boots - and arrived at the other fence, mud splattered up to my knees, only to find - you guessed it - that crow, perched on the fence post, and making a sound that for all the world sounded like he was laughing at me! I had to laugh too, and said, “well, thank you anyway!” I wiped off as much mud as I could on the hospital lawn, and had a great visit with Harry. It was the last time I ever saw him.

I also knew Harry, who a good friend, and a special person. His full name was Harry St.Clair Spencer. Born and raised in Windsor, Nova Scotia, he had Native ancestry which he said was Kootch. He was a man who knew much about the ways of birds and animals, and I think that perhaps he was particularly fond of crows. He certainly travelled the woods a great deal in his younger years, and must have had numerous opportunities to observe the crow. He told this story,which suggests something about a sense of community among crows, and about Harry’s spiritual well-being.

You know, when you spend a lot of time in the woods, you see the strangest things. One time I was out the woods road when I heard a lot of flutterin' and goin' on. I turned toward the sound, and pretty soon I came on to a little learing, and in that clearing was a bunch of crows settin' around on the ground. What I noticed next was that they was settin' around pretty much in a circle, and in the center of that circle was a dead crow!

They kept settin' there, quiet like, and once in a while they would start up mutterin', you know, just makin' this odd, soft little mutterin' sound, and that sound went all around the circle of 'em. I watched for quite a little while. Looked altogether like a funeral. After a bit, I looked away just for a couple of seconds, when I heard a loud, sharp call go out. There was a great flutter of wings, and all of 'em took off right sudden like. And you know, when I looked around, that dead crow was gone too.

People like Harry were special because they travelled the forests often, and had practical knowledge about how to live independently, without always having to rely on others for their survival. Just as important was Harry’s sense of wonder, his faith, and sensitivity. It was those qualities that gave Harry the inspiration to roam about the forests, and rewarded him with the rare gift of a crow circle. In some cultures, this would be considered an important event in one's life (for example, among traditional Algonquin peoples). It is a rare medicine gift. It indicates that a person has developed a degree of spiritual power.

Unfortunately, in mainstream Western culture, we have lost much of this sense of the “sacred”. So often we do not notice or recognize the many natural gifts with which life blesses us. Spirit endeavoured to reinforce and to make me more aware of that sacredness. On one occasion, I saw Spirit in a vivid dream. I remember waking in the morning, thinking about the dream, and wondering what it meant.

Upon visiting Spirit later that morning, I found the most beautiful feather laying on the ground near him. It was a special gift, which he gave to me in the dream. Our lives will present us with such gifts if we are alive and alert to the possibility of them.

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