Animal Allies or Totems
Other powers: your Magic Allies
RAVEN AND CROW
Raven is the primary magical ambassador from the animal kingdom. Raven and his cousin, Crow, are the shaman's allies. They teach and perform soul retrieval and transformation. Raven journeys back and forth between dimensions, the realms of life and death, spirit and flesh and can deliver and transmit messages. Raven gives magic lessons and teaches you how to hone your skills. Raven sparks the courage to face the unknown, to journey into unmarked territory. Raven teaches how to balance caution and courage, how to turn fear into a survival skill rather than a liability. Raven is a sponsor of healing emotion and teaches the futility of healing the body without also healing the spirit and emotions.
Crows and ravens are often referred to interchangeably although technically the raven is a larger, shaggier bird possessing slightly different habits. When mythology distinguishes between them, ravens are more associated with transformative magic, while crows are associated with healing. Neither will work with you before you are ready, although they may drop in from time to time with encouragement. If you're nearly there, you may receive company and assistance from their little blue cousin, the jay.
Ornithologists consider crows and ravens to be the geniuses of the bird kingdom. They are extremely intelligent, demonstrate a sense of humor, use tools and have a concept of counting. Crows mate for life and are faithful. Both parents care for the young who may live with them for several years. Crows alert each other to food and danger, take care of one another and provide for their injured as best as they are able. Young males wishing to gain entry to a community do so by ingratiating themselves to mature females with young, assisting them and bringing them extra food.
Science has demonstrated exactly how much crows have in common with humans, only confirming what folklore, mythology and religion has suggested for millennia. An amazingly broad spectrum of cultures, Earthwide, has considered ravens and crows sacred, recounting crow's lessons and legends as hero, trickster and sometimes as Earth's Supreme Creator. These include Celtic, Greek, Japanese, Jewish, Native American, Scandinavian, Vietnamese and especially the indigenous cultures of Siberia and Pacific Coastal North America. In all these cultures and legends, crows and ravens guide and serve humans.
According to one legend, Raven created the universe. Everything was wonderful, perfect, peaceful. Raven was bored. So he scrapped that world and formed another more interesting, flawed one, creating people in his own image for his amusement.
Crows are not afraid of people. They are among the easiest animals to communicate with, because, like people, they enjoy communication for its own sake. They are humbling birds, one look in their eyes lets you know that, as with cats, they have no doubt which of you is more intelligent and it isn't you. Watch crows as they eat: one unselfishly posts as guard while the others indulge and then they'll take turns.
· To see a crow with food in its beak is a sign of tremendous good fortune, an assurance of future economic prosperity. If they pause to make eye contact with you, to thrust their beak in your direction, to make sure you've seen their sign, the message is even stronger.
Snake is the animal most associated with Earth's wisdom. As it lacks arms and legs, unless a snake is held captive, its entire body is in constant connection with Earth. Many ancient traditions believed that snakes could transmit Earth's secrets and knowledge to people, should they choose. The ancient Romans considered snakes to be particular allies of human women, healing and empowering them, encouraging proper functioning of both body and psychic aptitude.
Because the snake periodically sheds its skin, first appearing dull then emerging shiny and new, it is associated with rebirth and rejuvenation. Snake's power is particularly multifaceted. Snake is believed to be the official repository and guardian of Earth's secrets. In addition to magic lessons, Snake can assist you with all matters regarding health, fertility, knowledge and wealth. Snake can also be approached as a research tool and resource whenever you need to learn something. Snake can also be considered the animal equivalent of a white candle: if you don't know which animal to address, you can always approach Snake.
Snakes have an independent presence. Ultimately their loyalty is to Earth, not to humans. A snake is never “tame” although it may live among us. They rarely volunteer their wisdom, unlike Raven who on occasion demonstrates a protective and parental attitude towards humans. If you need information from Snake, assume that you will have to initiate contact.
Of course, there's an exception to every rule. If Snake has made introductory overtures to you, this indicates that you possess innate healing skills and aptitude. Snake has appeared to encourage you to maximize your potential and to share its knowledge with you, so that you, too, will be a vehicle of healing energy.
Shed snakeskins or crow feathers are believed to be powerful and precious magical implements. The catch is: they must be given freely. If you find one, consider it a gift, perhaps acknowledgement that you've mastered a level of magical knowledge and skill. Harming any animal is believed to be unlucky but causing harm or discomfort to snakes, ravens or crows, or indeed to any of the threshold animals, is considered particularly inauspicious, really bad karma. Body parts taken by force may backfire upon you: crows, for one, are famous tricksters. If you want crow feathers, feed them, they tend to be generous with feathers as payment (remember, they won't come before you're ready) or request them from a crow-rehabilitation center. Many people keep snakes as companion animals, obtaining their skins as they shed. Likewise you can request shed skins at a rehabilitation center or zoo.
· Abandoned snakeskins are worn as belts and girdles to rejuvenate female fertility. Snakeskins are also sometimes wrapped around aching joints to provide relief.
· Abandoned crow feathers are used to focus magical concentration. Use it to waft incense smoke or the smoke from a smudge stick over your crystal ball. A crow feather under your pillow or placed whole inside a dream pillow assists with astral projection and lucid dreaming.