The Way of the Crow



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Of course, it is difficult for us to cultivate the patience of the crow. We are accustomed to living our lives motivated by desires and whims. The patient person will stop, look, and observe what is happening in their lives, considering changes for the better. Patience is cultivated by much practice, including the observation of creatures who exhibit patience in their behaviour. I now try to foster patience in my own life, on a daily basis, to prevent costly mistakes or hasty decisions. It doesn't always work; there are times when frustration overcomes me, and I'm less able to endure or change to meet a given situation.

I also realized that patience and endurance are inseparably linked. Just consider the trials Spirit had to endure in his life -- the injuries, the adjustments to new living situations and more. Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from Spirit is to be more observant of my environment. We take so much for granted around us, and usually observe only those things we expect to see, while missing the many small things happening around us. Yet, Spirit seemed to observe even the minor things or small changes in his environment. For example, he was quick to notice the movements of insects, the swaying of grasses, the movements of other birds, and the sound of my car as distinct from other cars. As well, his keen eyesight could easily recognize my presence at a distance of seventy-five to one hundred yards.

Ravens are incredible in this respect, having highly refined senses. I learned this through personal experience. Last year I tryed several times to observe a particular raven with my binoculars. While I succeeded on several occasions, there were many times when the raven was alerted to my presence and intention. On one occasion, I tryed to observe it from the loft of my cabin where I had been sleeping. On this particular morning I awoke to the loud voice of the raven that was sitting on a tree about forty yards from my window. Lying in bed, I carefully reached for the binoculars, placing them to my eyes. To my amazement the raven flew away -- it must have observed my movements with its keen sight! There is little wonder that crows and ravens have survived through the generations, as their marvellous sensory awareness has assured this survival.  


If you are more than a little curious about crows, you will want to observe them as often as possible. It will mean much outdoor adventure, visiting a number of environments, and studying the crow's reaction to various circumstances or conditions. As a matter of course, whether you realize it or not, you will become very absorbed with the crow, and may acquire certain of its characteristics.

You may smile in disbelief at my remarks, though I can assure you this is likely to occur. You see, crows are mesmerizing birds. Their behaviour is so interesting, and so obviously guided by intelligence, that it captivates the observer. You may become so absorbed in your observations of crows, that you begin to immitate the traits that most attract you. This is a type of shamanic transformation, and a personal experience of spiritual significance You will gain a heightened appreciation of crow behaviour, and become more willing to learn from other species, and to apply this learning to your own life.

Dorothy Knowles, of East Hampton, New York, wrote to me about the significance of her experiences with crows and ravens. She remarked,

It happened during my 1993 vacation to the southwest . . . . One morning at Lake Powell I went for a walk. It was cold and brisk, and I thoroughly enjoyed being alone with my thoughts. Off in the distance, in back of the lodge, were a hugh flock of crows interested in what was thrown out from the kitchen. I smiled, and went on my way at a quicker pace. Seconds later I heard this incredible sound going over my head. I looked up and saw this crow just about scaling my head. The sound was of his wing beats -- powerful, even, rhythmic. All I could do was to follow him with my eyes and exclaim "WOW" over and over again. It was the most incredible experience I ever had -- so much so that it was all I thought about the whole morning on the tour bus. I wanted to remember that sound forever. 

After returning home, Dorothy discussed her experience with a friend, and realized the spiritual importance of her encounter with the crow. Later, she tried a visualization exercise, which she learned from Dr. Michael Samuels' book, Healing With the Mind's Eye. She wrote, 

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