I am in a story telling mood today, and perhaps that’s because I spent a week in the presence of someone who loves a good story. As an aside, I learned much about how to tell a better story. I have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, one cup of coffee will take you through this tale from my early days.
A Crow Funeral
I was reminded of this experience last week when crow and raven were so prevalent in the room during the workshop, so I thought I’d tell you about the first time I ever heard words from an animal. Add to this the sad fact the animal’s body was no longer breathing.
When I was first awakened, the things I experienced freaked me out some times. This was definitely one of those times, because I didn’t have the consciousness to perceive the wonder and beauty of what I encountered. That came later.
I walked the same route to the Post Office every day. It gave me exercise, and some time outdoors to breathe fresh air, to feel the sun on my face, to smell the scents on the wind (although most times, that was car exhaust). This day, I noticed a crow lying dead by the curb in the gutter. I glanced over, and was startled when I clearly heard the words : “Pick me up.”
“EEEwwwwwww!” was my immediate response, then the thought came that I had just responded to a dead crow. I kept on walking, and ignored the pleas I heard on the return trip.
The next day, the crow was still there. I thought that by now, a cat or some other scavenger would have carried it off. No such luck. I now understand that it was for purpose that the crow’s body was still there, that something greater than ordinary consciousness was in play here. Again, I heard the crow (still dead, mind you) beseeching me to pick it up from the gutter. I heard additional reasons why I needed to take action: “I do not want to continue to lie here in the gutter. Please don’t leave me here in disgrace like a piece of refuse. I deserve a proper burial.”
I was all in at this point. What the heck, I was hearing a dead crow speak. Might as well answer. I mentally told the crow (still dead) that if it was still there in the morning (which would be the morning of the third day), I would do something about its plight.
The morning of the third day came. I walked to the Post Office. The crow was still there, and I swear I could feel a strong sense of “waiting” energy. Silence. No words in my head as I walked by. But I had made a promise, despite the fact that I’d made it to a dead crow. I do my best to keep my word.
I went back to the house after I picked up the mail and fetched some plastic bags and rubber gloves. I also located my collapsible shovel because there was no way I was just going to throw the crow in the trash. I now have the overwhelming impulse to give this crow a proper burial, and that would require digging a hole in my back yard somewhere.
I gently placed the remains of the crow into the bag, and carried the body to my back yard. I figured at this point I might as well ask where it would like to be buried. I was totally surprised when it immediately responded by pointing my attention to a specific spot that would get both sun and shade throughout the day.
I dug the hole there, and rolled the body from the plastic bag into the waiting earth. I declare, I heard a sigh from this deceased crow as the body made contact with the dirt. And then I heard the most extraordinary thing. This crow told me I could take any part of its body as a gift for this act of kindness.
My immediate response was: “EEEwwwww! No, you keep it all.”
I didn’t know what an honor this was. I refused the gift. No, you keep all your parts, I thought. As I covered the bird up, blanketing the body with the earth I’d removed to make room for the crow, I suddenly became aware of a rustling, and some soft cawing from above and behind me. There were trees in my back yard. With the awareness came the sensation of a rush of goose bumps. (I didn’t recognize it as “Truth bumps” at the time, but now understand that is what they were.)
Slowly, I turned. Another wave of intense energy rolled through me as I gazed upon hundreds of crows gathered in the trees, like blue-black baubles amidst the verdant green of the leaves. It took my breath away, and I knew in that moment I was participating in a crow funeral. Literally. All these Crow Relations had come to say good-bye to their brother, their friend.
Weird, but I could feel their collective appreciation for the simple act I’d performed. I also had the sense I carried crow medicine now, despite my refusal to take any physical parts from the bird I’d buried.
It was many years later, and in a different state entirely, before I finally accepted the gift of Crow Medicine from the Crow Nation. But that is a story for another day.
Time to get busy. Now go out and have a wonder-filled day. I know I will.
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