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The Call of the Crow


crow flying in front of the moon

Endings

It was Autumn, a few days after Samhain, the season of endings and deep change. My inner and outer life have been reflecting these themes in very real ways. The knowledge that my "day job" no longer served my soul, but was instead holding back my spiritual growth, had been gnawing at me for a while now. Like busy rats burrowing into the dark walls of my mind, the damage was something I could no longer ignore, even though I was at a loss for what to do.

My career of twenty plus years as a teacher of young children was dying, I could feel it in my marrow. I still loved the children, but I always knew this work was only a part of my calling, and the environment was becoming more draining to my body, mind, and soul every day. The spiritual urge to explore death, endings and new beginnings had been growing stronger recently, and I was hearing the haunting call.

In my mundane life, being surrounded by people that I could not relate or connect with had been eroding my spirit. As a witch, I lived isolated within the crowd, hiding huge swathes of myself and my inner life because my spiritual practices and experiences would seem strange at best, evil at worst. Letting people too close, letting them really know me, could cost me my livelihood. I felt like I was living a double life.

As an energy-sensitive empath, I was constantly drained and exhausted by the cacophony of "people energy", and left with none for those close to me that I really did want to connect with. I couldn't cope with texting, phone calls, social media. I had to go into my personal cone of silence each night to repair myself and deal with the energetic onslaught, just so I could muster up the courage to do it all again the next day, and again, and again… This was no way to live.

My spiritual connection and explorations have always been the center of my inner life, and but that wasn’t being reflected fully in my physical reality. As my practice has deepened, that chasm has only grown wider and trying to bridge the gap has become more and more of a strain. I had finally made the decision, deep within my heart and soul, that is was time for a change, time to live my purpose fully, time to integrate my inner and outer life. And then the crow was sent.

 
crow on branch
 

Death

"Baby, stop the car!" I commanded. The crow lay lifeless on the side of the road like a dark shadow, but it beckoned to me, and I knew it was important. It was a split-second decision to stop instead of just driving by - my intuition spoke and I listened. My beloved man, used to my occasional strange demands, obliged. We pulled the car into the parking lot. I felt that this dead crow was sent for me, as an offering, and perhaps a test.

 

Being a magickal person on an awakening path trying to live in the mundane world has been a constant challenge for me, and I'm probably not alone in feeling that. As perpetual outsiders, the nature of magickally inclined people is just inherently different from muggles, and we live in a society that celebrates conformity. (Important note: I don't use the term "muggle" in a disparaging way, but as a convenient moniker to differentiate magickal folk from those more materially-focused people. I believe everyone’s path is vital and valued by spirit).

We live in a very physical world, and particularly in western society, most people are materially focused. That is normal, natural and perhaps necessary. But sprinkled throughout this earthly realm have always been those few of us who are connected to energy and spirit in a more direct or unique way.

Historically, the very real nature of the spirit realm has been honored more fully, and those who connected with it were celebrated and protected. Shamans held a distinct and valued place. Monks, priests, and nuns lived cloistered lives, provided for physically by the greater community in exchange for holding the connection to spirit for everyone through prayer and meditation. Some cultures remain this way today, but overall, the North American culture to which I belong has no such agreement, for it only values the material plane.

Instead, in the west, the spirit realm is seen as imaginary or fanciful, and those that connect with it are judged as weirdos, crazy or worse. It's so common to see mystics labeled delusional, psychonauts vilified as drug addicts, all psychics painted as charlatans (some definitely are, but using those examples as “proof” that psychic phenomena itself are false is like saying one quack doctor proves that medicine is false). The spiritual and energetic levels of reality are completely denied.

In our culture, the "dark night of the soul" experience that so many of us have gone through is labeled mental illness, and they try to suppress and medicate it away with powerful and damaging drugs (illegal drugs are vilified, but legal ones for profit are allowed, of course). But the call of spirit is stronger than all of this, and for those of us on the spiritual/magickal path, to those who strive to live a deep and authentic life, the call simply cannot, and will not be denied.

 

The Coming Change

In conversation with other spiritual folks, there seems to be an agreement that more and more people are waking up from the empty materially-focused culture than ever before, to feel the call. We are becoming less rare, and we are feeling the pull to connect with one another.

Through my magickal journeys over the years, I have come to understand a few important things:

• We are all connected on an energetic and spiritual level - not just people, but all of nature - and these connections are of prime importance. Without it, the Earth suffers our wrath, and our spirits languish, causing depression, anxiety and other crises of the soul. We simply cannot live disconnected from nature or the energetic levels of reality any longer.

• Humanity is in an intense time of change and transformation, perhaps the most critical in all of human history. More and more people are called to spirit and awakening. Human consciousness itself is transforming, and must, if the world is to survive.

• Spiritual/magickal people who are connected to the non-human world and energetic planes are needed more than ever before to face the challenges ahead. This call is urgent, and insistent.

Through these hard-won perspectives, I knew I could no longer allow my job to affect my energy, my soul, and my connection to source and to other people any longer. My path has always been primarily solitary and personal, but the habit of isolating and holding my revelations close was not serving spirit or anyone else. Despite my fears, it was time to put my voice into the world to help support the awakening of consciousness.

 

The life-changing decision I had made before finding the crow was the to start this blog.

 
crow holding key
 

The Awakening

For someone so used to feeling worn down by other people’s energy, and in the habit of avoiding them whenever possible (turning to nature, animals, and spirit for true connection and renewal instead) this was a huge change. For a person who had grown accustomed to the status of outsider, reaching out to others and allowing myself to show my true face, a blog was a genuinely scary prospect. Not to mention the practical technical challenges. And yet despite the fear, the urge grew stronger.

Although my path has been primarily solitary, I have been gifted with visions that showed me the crucial nature of connection. I have also been gifted with my twin flame, and the presence of many other wonderful magickal people in my life whose relationships enlivened instead of draining me. I’d found my true tribe, and realized that while I am an outsider to the larger society, I am definitely not alone. It is those true relationships I wish to support and foster, that tribe of magickal folk I want to connect with and grow.

If you are also an outlier, you might relate to being taunted and bullied, criticized and rejected by those who couldn't understand or felt threatened by your perceptions. For me, it was a long journey to heal my hurt and resentment. It took a lot of shadow work to go from a place of victimhood to empowerment, but I had done enough to heal, to be able to see that my perspective was valuable and needed. I had done enough work to realize that the people that harmed me were consumed by ego and unconsciousness, as I too can be. I finally understood that when they hurt me "they knew not what they did", to paraphrase Jesus. It was not people that were the enemy, it was the unconsciousness.

I found the love and compassion in my heart for myself and others, and the great human challenges we all face. I saw the essential spirit that resided in people beyond the grasp of the ego. The crow came at this time, and I knew he was a beautiful confirmation from spirit that I was on the right path. And a sign that this path would likely be challenging.

 

The Call

We took the plastic bag and approached the crow. My beloved expressed fears about looking weird to the people in the oncoming cars, but I laughed with glee, for that was an odd concern for a man so comfortable with strangeness himself. We put the bird in the bag, and driving home, I peeked in and marveled at his incredible beauty. The dark sheen of his feathers, the curl of his claws, the soft weight of his body on my lap. I felt honored to be in his presence. We were both coming home.

 

At the time of this writing, I knew very little about blogs, but I was in a time of furious research, borne of the passion of inspiration, with a dash of desperation thrown in for good measure. I decided to write under a pseudonym and was researching names. For a witch who never chose a craft name, and never felt the need to, this was a daunting task. I am just not good at naming things. My cat's names have included such literary gems as: Big Cat, Little Cat, Girly Cat and Super Cat. So in a quest for names, my internet scrying began…

In my web-travels, I came across the name of the Morrigan, and something pinged - my magickal spidey senses were tingling in the way they do when I’m being guided. I began to research her more fully. I had been seeing crows daily for quite awhile, and I knew they had a strong connection to the Morrigan. One crow or more greeted me each morning on my drive to work without fail. Crows are the symbol of many a death God/dess however, not just the Morrigan, so this wasn’t exactly the proof I was looking for, but it was a thread to follow.

I already have a relationship with my matron Goddess Epona, who herself has a strong connection with death. She is no shrinking violet; a Goddess of War, but most importantly, a shapeshifter and psychopomp, escorting souls to the Otherworld, a job that crows know well.

For most of my life, I didn't believe in personified deity except as a concept. I connected to the great Oneness, and thought that gods and goddesses were just human constructs, created to connect with deity in a way that we could understand. Perhaps they were Jungian archetypes, or expressions of our higher selves. I was never much for researching myths and legends, and knew very little about gods and goddesses except their names. That all changed a few years ago when Epona came to me, pretty much out of the blue. Connecting with her energy, which was very clearly separate from me, and very real, required a revolution in my thoughts and spirituality, and I ate a slice or two of humble pie.

With this more open mindset towards deity, I wondered if my pull towards Morrigan was just a curiosity, a communication from Epona that I was mishearing, or the real thing. So I did the logical thing (for a witch), I asked for a sign.

Insert cricket sounds here…

I consulted Tarot and Oracle cards, and none of them made sense or related to me remotely, which was highly unusual. I listened to my inner voice. Silence ensued. On my way to work, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn't see a single crow, and that pattern continued. I figured I had my answer in the obvious absence of signs, and that answer was no. Okay, no Morrigan, no problem. Kind of a relief really, she seemed pretty intimidating and I didn't feel I had the magickal chops to handle her anyways. I decided to let it go.

Enter the dead crow. A sign I just could not ignore.

 
crow cawing close-up
 

The Work

We brought him home and promptly put him in the freezer. So, now I had a dead crow in the freezer and no idea what to do next. I knew intuitively that I needed to use his remains in my practice, and perhaps petition his soul as an ally on the spirit realm. I had never done this before, and I had no idea what to do with him next, but I was ready to learn, and I knew deep in my bones it was an important spiritual test I was facing. I've been at this long enough not to shrink from challenges. I started researching the Morrigan, and taxidermy too, and reached out to a Voodoo priest I knew.

I already have a beautiful hawk wing, acquired a few months ago, that I use daily in my morning practice, but it came to me already dried and lovingly prepared. I knew that if I were to use the crow in my practice, I would have to do the work myself.

After a time, I came to understand that this was the message from the Morrigan, the test: if you want to work with me to make changes in your physical life, you have to do the real work. The grizzly work of chopping off limbs and scrambling brains.

Death is not just an abstract concept of endings and beginnings, of transitions and passages. It definitely is those things too, but on the material, plane it is also painful, messy, gory. Was I ready to accept this challenge of the crow and do the wetwork? Was I really willing to put myself out there in the "real world" through my blog, expose myself and be vulnerable, face a mountain of challenges, and risk things getting messy in my life? Was I ready to face my own shadow, my fears about not being good enough or of having anything valuable to share? Was I ready to own my own power as a spiritual warrior in the world?

The challenge is complicated, but the answer is simple. I am. This journey might be hard and messy, and I may not know the final destination, but I do know that I am being called to do the work.

As I write this, I hear the crow outside calling, can you hear him too?

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