The Way of the Crow



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I want this book to serve both teaching and healing functions. It is a book that I would like people to print out and read in a beautiful natural setting such as a hardwood forest, or, a grove of white birch, or, perhaps, while relaxing on the shore of a secluded cove. I have envisioned people reading this book in the flickering light of a camp fire, with puffs of wood smoke swirling about them. Again, in my mind, I see a "talking circle," and a person tightly gripping the "talking stick" while reading about the crow as a "trickster" figure. Whatever the situation or circumstance, it is my sincere wish that this ebook will be good medicine, and contribute to joy inspired living, as well as stimulating interest inthe observation and protection of wildlife in general.

The crow is a clever bird with a good sense of personality - this combined with the blackness of its feathers, has made it a common character in legend, folktale, and myth. For that matter, corvids, generally, are well represented in the folklore of many cultures throughout the world. The gray jay, or wiskedjak, for example, is a "trickster" in the traditions of certain northeastern North American First Nations.

The crow's cousin, the raven, has achieved god-like status in parts of the world. It was the raven who sustained Elijah, the biblical medicine man and prophet, while he dwelt by the brook Cherith.1 In the legends of the Native peoples of North America, the crow and the raven are often represented as "trickster" figures.2 In fact, raven stories of the northwest pacific coast peoples, become crow stories in the Yukon.3 The trickster figure in legend and myth is somewhat similar to "culture hero" figures such as Glooscap, who is the central actor in many Mi’kmaq legends. There are important differences, however. The trickster is a semi-divine being but, unlike Glooscap, is not ancestral, nor particularly concerned with the welfare of human beings.4 As well, they are ambivalent characters, mediating between opposites; for example, good/bad, sky/earth, wild/cultivated, and male/female. This ambivalence, combined with the power of transformation, makes the trickster a rather versatile being, able to play many roles and to affect humans in almost every conceivable way.

Crow was one such versatile figure. He made the world, gave it light, and made people. In Native legends from the Yukon, we learn that Crow was anxious to create the world, but was having problems because the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, and stars) were guarded and under the control of a powerful Chief. Crow, however, was cunning, and was able to trick the Chief's daughter into "giving birth to him". As her son, he was able to steal the heavenly bodies from his grandfather. Then, he quickly left that place, taking all those things with him in a box.

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