Crows and Ravens as Totems by Lynx Graywolf


Crows & Ravens As Totems



(Written While Lynx still lived in Portland)

Crows and Ravens are from the same family and the only real physical difference between the two is their size. Ravens tend to be much larger and are found mainly in wilderness areas although I have seen several near my home. Ravens also carry medicine that is slightly different than that of Crows, which I will cover in another article. The following though will relate to both.

Both Ravens and Crows associate with Wolves as well so those who have these birds as Totems are also likely to have Wolf as a Totem as well.

Crows and Ravens are extremely intelligent. They can learn to use tools, develop complex communication with humans and other species. They are wonderful for psychic protection and will literally mob together to drive off negative energy from those they care for. They are also called thieves in that they will nick jewelry, coins, watches, anything shiny that catches their attention. One friend of mine living in a flat in LA said that for several months people had been complaining that someone was nicking their valuables. All kinds of jewelry, pens, coins, anything left outside on a table or near an open window was disappearing right and left. A maintenance worker was clearing off some old growth from one of the palm trees when he discovered a nest filled with everything people had been missing! Months later on someone saw a Crow making off with a gold chain, back up to the top of the palm tree.

Those who carry Crow/Raven medicine once they become attuned to it, can begin drawing what they need and value into their own lives. They also have the ability to teach others how to learn to value themselves and others, to go for the gold, the best in one’s life and to be open to receive from the Universe.
Crows/Ravens are also well known for their curiosity and intense exploration of anything that catches their attention. So when Crows/Ravens or people who carry their medicine show up in your life it can indicate that now is the time to explore those things that have recently caught your eye or that something new is about to enter your life that is beneficial for you so pay attention! Crows/Ravens are always on the lookout as part of their survival mechanisms and it behooves us to also pay attention when they appear as the Universe is trying to tell us something.

Crows are very social and band together for the good of the group so this is an indication that we need to work with and cooperate with others of like mind in order to bring about blessings for all beings. Crows and Ravens look out for one another and they also warn other animals when danger is near. Frequently they drive hunters mad because they are always warning Deer and Elk that the hunters are near! When a Crow or Raven is shrieking loudly near you, check around to see if someone or something that could be “harmful” is in the area. Of course when they call like that it can mean many things yet over time once you work with them frequently you will begin to understand what their messages mean to you specifically.
Many times when I am outside I will be thinking about something to do with my work or a friend and if the Crows start calling to me, I know it’s a heads up that something needs to be attended to in that area of my life. They even make comments when I am situating new plants in the garden. If I place it one area and they are quiet, I know it’s not the right place so I keep moving the plant until they start shrieking at me. The plants always do well when I follow their advice!

This is some of the behavior I have noticed with my own Crows. Some of it has taken me a while to decipher and I am sure I have only scratched the surface as it is! I know that when they are speaking among themselves the conversation probably starts off something like “That silly woman! The Grandfathers keep insisting she’s a shaman, yet look at all the messes we have to pull her out of! Almost got myself run over on the street today trying to get her attention!”

Many has been the time I have been walking along only to have a Crow fly down into the middle of a street, in the path of oncoming traffic, banging it’s beak on the ground, with me dancing around on the pavement, waving my arms and yelling at it to get out of the street! At first I really did think that perhaps they found great amusement in making me look a fool, yet then I realized that every time it happened, there was an important message that the Universe was trying to get through to me. One instance that really sticks in my mind was when they were trying to warn me of serious physical danger. The poor Crow was almost hit by a car, barely managing to get out of the way in time. I was very shaken, especially as he then followed me down the street cawing rather frantically at me. Had I heeded the warning I could have saved myself not only a great deal of heartache but avoided a very threatening situation coming from someone I thought I could trust. I had just left a the flat of a friend I was visiting when this happened and I even heard the Crow saying “Go Back! Go Back!” Well, silly me I thought the Crow meant to go back to the flat. In a way he did, go back, grab your stuff and get the hell outta there! The Grandfathers had tried to warn me, even in dreams I had, yet I ignored the messages. Finally as a last resort a Crow literally almost gave up his life to get my attention. This speaks of the amazingly strong bond and love our Totems have for us and why we should honor them in any way that is appropriate for them and us.

What else was interesting about this was normally when they do what I call their “dance” there is another Crow perched overhead on a wire or tree branch. This time there was only the one. When there are two or more I have found for me it is a good time to take some kind of risk or action as there is support and a focus being held for me to follow through and to insure a good outcome. The more Crows in the area the more support that is being offered.

I have also found that when a Crow is cawing and then turns say to the south, then I know there is an important message coming to me from someone south of me. If they tap on the phone wires then I know it is coming via email or phone. Usually if it’s by phone, they tap only once or twice. Email, it’s usually a head bangers ball going on up there, LOL!

Many people have mentioned to me that they know something is wrong with me if the Crows in their area are very quiet or especially noisy! Those are the times when I start getting numerous emails or phone calls asking me “what’s wrong, the Crows are acting oddly so I know something is wrong with you!” And they are right! I have some very dear friends, Ted and Annie. If the Crows get too noisy over at Ted and Annie’s, Ted will ask Annie to ring me so I can tell them to be quiet!

If you hear a Crow calling at night, that is a MAJOR heads up as night time is Owl time and Owls are enemies of the Crow. Owls prey on Crows at night when they are in their nests and so Crows are especially careful to be quiet when night time falls. This is a good message for those who carry Crow/Raven medicine: if you sense a predator might be near, be silent and still and wait for the situation to pass. Taking no action at those times is the best course of action. Some people who carry Crow/Raven medicine also carry Owl medicine as well. In fact, if you have one bird as a totem in actuality you may have a whole flock of birds as totems!

Another way I work with my Crows is to ask them questions about anything and everything. I phrase it so it can be answered yes or no. If it ‘s yes, I get a frantic cawing even before I complete the question. If it’s no, dead silence even if they had been very noisy moments before. They even help me situate new plants in the garden, if I set one down somewhere and they start cawing I know that’s the right place. Silence means to try a different area. They are always right as every plant I have situated following their advice has thrived where the ones that were placed according to my judgement either died or had to be moved. Usually to where the crows thought best in the first place, very sheepish grin!

My Crows also love the rain here. It can be pouring buckets outside and they are all out there splashing in the puddles, chasing each other down the pavement and spreading their wings and feathers to catch more of the rain then shaking it off again. People who carry Crow/Raven medicine often greatly benefit from washing their hands and faces frequently as water is a wonderful cleanser of negative energy. Since often Crow/Raven people are also navigators of the darkness or the underworld, it is important that these people clear their energy fields frequently so as not to take on any energy that is not their own. It also helps if you are trying to clear issues or problems in your life to add a few drops of a Crow or Raven essence to a salt water bath or even setting some Crow feathers near the tub will also do the trick. For nightmares a Crow fetish, feathers or essence even pictures of Crows or Ravens can help drive the nightmares away. It is important though to examine why you may be having nightmares and ask for guidance as how to resolve the issue.

I also place Crow feathers around the yard and garden as we live in a rather “colorful” area of Portland. As a result Ken’s car and our home has not been broken into or vandalized the way our neighbors have. I have mentioned this to neighbors I thought would be receptive to the idea of asking the Crows for help and things have settled down somewhat so perhaps they have followed through. Annie and I started what we are calling the Wayward Crow Society in honour of the Crows who look in my windows and when I catch them at it, they act very nonchalant, walking away like ” oh no, we would NEVER be looking in on you!” Right mates, VBG! This is an indication that sometimes it is best to keep what you are doing under wraps until the time is right to let others see what you are up to. All of the metaphysical traditions I am aware of say that it is important to allow energy and power to build inside of you when you are in the process of manifesting something important to you. Talking about it can dissipate the energy which is why it helps to talk about one’s problems! Of course talking about problems too much can actually help to recreate them over and over in your life as you are putting emphasis and awareness on them. What I have found for myself and many of the people I work with is when an issue first comes up it is helpful to allow it to “churn” in your mind over a period of time, not resisting it, but journaling or talking to someone you can trust about it until you begin to sense completion around it. Sometimes what may also happen is that the conscious mind becomes so exhausted by it that it is turned over to the subconscious mind for resolution and release. Since the subconscious is where our intuition lives, we may find answers or healing in dreams or a sudden breakthrough by following a “hunch” or inner prompting. Over time you can learn what the right balance is for you to help clear the issue without recreating it so trust what you feel is right and best for you!

Crows are also associated with magic and mysticism as Ted Andrews covers very well in his book “Animal -Speak” and the “Animal Wise Tarot”.

Our Crow and Raven Essences can be found on this page here – The Shamanic Animal Essences, Essence Oils and Mysts Page One

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the enormous amount of email I receive each week I cannot go over specific totems with people on an individual basis, but I am happy to include on these pages as much information as I can about working with and understanding totem energies. I wish I could answer questions I receive but time and energy wise it is truly impossible! Also, I have no easy answers for anyone on what a totem encounter might possibly mean for them. Trying to sort something like that can mean many hours of effort on my part and frankly that is time I need to spend on earning a living and supporting my children. If you would like more information, please read the Totem Faq page as well as the Morningstar Totem Pages Faq page (scroll down to the bottom of this page). There are also numerous sites on the net that you may also find very helpful. Thanks for your understanding!

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Speech against library closures, 5th February 2011 by Samuel West

I wrote this in protest against plans to close the the York Gardens Public Library in Wandsworth. It was given at their Read-in on Saturday 5th February 2011.


Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

I grew up in Wandsworth, just up the road.  I learnt to read early, and I’ve loved it ever since. At school we had a little lending library, mostly full of old Puffins, where I took books out, and even occasionally was allowed to buy books of my very own from the age of seven or so (that was how I discovered The Moomins. I still have my original eight Puffin paperback Moomin books, and I still re-read them all every couple of years).  But my excitement at the wonders held between those covers was as nothing to the thrill behind the doors of Battersea Library in Lavender Hill.  A red brick Victorian building with an atmosphere half-imposing, half-welcoming, and all serious.  I first went in when I was seven, feeling very grown-up. I loved the smell. All libraries have this smell: the smell of ink, paper, sticky-backed plastic and concentration.  The children’s library, on the right as you went in had a particularly strong scent of excitement. There’s something about meeting a hardback edition of a book you know in paperback that brings the whole function of a library into focus. Different artwork on the front, a larger size, a plastic cover and those sturdy boards around it designed to keep it safe and strong as it’s passed from hand to hand to hand.

I remember reading Watership Down when I was very small.  I finished it and was bereft. I announced solemnly to my mother that it was the best book I had ever read, and that nothing could replace it in my affections. I may even have cried a little, proud of the strength of my loyalty. My mother was unfazed. She took me down to Battersea Library, we returned with The Hobbit – that hardback edition with the blue and green and white cover inscribed by Tolkien with dwarven runes around the edge – and that was that. I was hooked. I’ve never re-read Watership Down, but The Hobbit has become one of my favourite tales, and this Christmas I bought that same edition for my nephew. I suppose I could have bought it for him on Kindle.  But I wanted him to be able to hold it in his hand (and I could have got it from the library).

I was 14 in 1980.  The 80s were a gallstone of a decade to be a teenager.  On top of the usual crises of conscience and identity, we had regular nightmares about nuclear war and a real feeling that for the first time in our history, we could easily destroy ourselves.  And no Twitter to distract you.

I was scared and confused.  And going to Battersea Library made it better.  I met and devoured a number of books by authors who took these worries seriously; dystopian, post-holocaustal stuff by Peter Dickinson, Monica Hughes, John Wyndham, John Christopher.  They spoke to my concerns and made me feel less lonely.  In fact, I suspect I got more comfort and inspiration from those books that today’s 14 year-olds get from Skins or Facebook.

Libraries are great news for kids.  A child can devour a new picture book every night.  Where else can you go to get all those books for free, chosen by people who know about such things?  Libraries’ work with kids is increasingly successful. The number of books leant to children in this country went up from 63 million in 2005 to 69 million in 2009.  This very library played its part in that success.

Now my parents first took me to the library; not all parents do. But it’s important to remember that libraries must be there for children to find by themselves. Not just as a place to borrow books, but as a safe, warm, friendly and quiet place to work or think if life at home is too loud or too crowded (for goodness’ sake, let’s also trumpet libraries as a place where homeless people can go to read the paper out of the rain). Instead of shutting them down, why not spend the little extra money to keep every library open ‘til 8pm on a school night? Would any one thing change the homework habits of the nation more cheaply?

The point is, there’s a confused 14-year-old out there on this estate right now for whom this place could be a refuge, an oasis, an inspiration, and who faced with the walk to another library a bit less local, a bigger one that hasn’t been shut down, won’t bother. You can’t just tell children to walk the extra mile through dark streets and under railway lines. They shouldn’t have to.

Do any of you play the computer game SimCity?  When your city’s thriving a few years in, the people rise up with one voice and demand a library.  Build one, and your people get happier, and cleverer.  Build two, and the effects increase.  Build enough to cover the city and land values go up.  But never, ever, not even in the SimCity universe, does a councillor appear suggesting that there are too many libraries.

I can’t quite believe we are here today. I mean, what kind of arse wants to close a library?  It beggars belief.  Councillors with books and internet connections of their own can’t imagine being someone who can’t afford a book, or how valuable those things can be to those who haven’t got them.  Why shut this particular library, which is so clearly needed, used and loved?  Why not shut a bigger library in a more prosperous ward?  Presumably Wandsworth Tories think there are fewer votes to be lost around here.  If that’s true, they should be ashamed.

Today’s Tories seem to be terrified of things being free at source.  It promotes social mobility.  Dangerous nonsense.

We will be told by the council that the punitive cuts imposed on them by central government leave them no choice. They cannot afford to oppose these cuts (why else do we elect these people?). They will say “What would you cut instead?”  As Philip Pullman points out: it’s not our job to cut services, it’s your job to defend them.

But we can oppose these cuts. And we will. All over the country, all over the world, and not just today, protests like this are giving voice and volume to a very deep-seated feeling: that the price of a library and the value of a library are not the same thing.

A library is a repository of knowledge. It shouldn’t matter if nobody even takes anything out of it. Nobody ever borrowed anything from the great library of Alexandria, but I don’t remember Greek local councillors campaigning to have it closed down. In the end, it was the cuts to the fire service that did for that one.

Public libraries cost £1.2bn a year to run, or one-sixth of the tax avoided by Vodaphone.  Public libraries employ 25 000 people.  Close them all and would we save that £1.2bn?  Nope. Here’s why, from John Kirriemuir’s excellent blog (

•               That’s 25,000 less employed people paying tax

•               …and 25,000 more unemployed people claiming benefits.

•               The knock-on effect to the suppliers of goods and services libraries need, will take a hit

•               …as will the providers of goods and services bought by those 25,000 library staff

•               …and author and publisher payments will be down, so less tax to be gained there as well.

•                There’s the unquantifiable number of people who use library services to get back into employment, through re-skilling, self-education or finding work. Close libraries and that’s more tax gain lost, more people still claiming benefits.

And to those Wandsworth Tory Councillors who think “I’m alright Jack”, here’s a selfish sum to make you think.  There are 35 million registered library users, making an average of, say, 10 visits a year. Let’s say the average cost of a new paperback is £5. Let’s say you borrow 2 books each visit. So that’s 20 books at £5 each, which is £100.  
£1.2bn divided by 35m users is about £35.  So your library membership saves you £65 a year.  Nice little earner!

In the Daily Telegraph, Phil Bradley, a librarian, posted a comment to a pro-cuts piece by some 12-year old economics graduate saying that libraries were unaffordable. Because one of the aims of today’s meeting is to support the staff of these places and the amazing work they do, I thought I’d end with Phil’s powerful words. He says it better than ever I could.

“I pay taxes for a fire service I may use… I pay taxes for schools I don’t use. I pay taxes for a library I DO use. If you are paying for something you don’t use – well, I think you’re the idiot and not me. But then, I’m not an economist…

And even if none of that were true – I pay for a library service because I believe that people should have a right to information. I believe that libraries give us a chance to Question, not just Read. I believe that everyone – young, old, rich or poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged should have the right and the opportunity to better themselves. That should not come at the price of being able to afford a computer and internet connection, or the ability to buy books as and when needed for one-off use, or the existing skill and ability to find out information.

A library is a mark of a civilized society, and I’d rather have a book than an economist telling me how much it costs.”

Thank you.