One is for bad news.
Two is for mirth.
Three is a wedding.
Four for a birth.
Five is for riches.
Six is a thief.
Seven a journey.
Eight is for grief.
Nine is a secret.
Ten is for sorrow.
Eleven is love.
Twelve is joy on the morrow.
Yes, I freely admit it – I count crows. Someone made up that informative little blurb about what the numbers mean for the benefit of superstitious people like me. Having discovered this poem (and others like it) I now forever find myself taking the words seriously and assigning deep meaning to having big black birds land in my backyard.
A few days ago there were five crows strutting about back there. I’ve gotten used to the magpies visiting, but don’t often see the rest of the Corvids family (which includes ravens, crows and blue jays.) These particular family members are all black, a little scruffy looking, and tricky ominous shape-shifting soul-eating scavengers. Really, you probably won’t find that description in your bird book, but they do have a reputation. They are loud, rambunctious, cunning thieves with a plethora of different calls, all of which sound like “Go to Hell” in crow-speak. A group of them is called a “murder” because (according to me, with no scientific back up for proof) it always sounds like they are sufficiently pissed off to kill the next thing that crosses their path.
I could also come up with explanations for a jury or an unkindness of ravens; a parliament of crows, rooks or owls; a cast of hawks, a knot of frogs, and a skulk of foxes. But maybe I’ll save that for another day when those things present themselves for view from my kitchen window. A pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, an absence of waiters, an ostentation of peacocks and a brace of orthodontists are all self-explanatory.
This morning there were five crows on my front lawn. I had a twilight zone moment. These birds are definitely trying to tell me something. It could be simply that there are great snacks in my grass, or maybe it’s something much more important, like information on the secrets of balance within my soul (because, you know, that could come from anywhere) or timely advice about purchasing a lottery ticket. Five is for riches, after all.
Crows are not always harbingers of doom apparently, although I tend to associate them with warnings of danger – death, accidents, sickness, bad weather. It’s all that gloomy black I guess. But these birds are also considered by some to be the keepers of sacred law and the mysteries of creation, divine messengers here to guide and protect, bringers of knowledge, seekers of the gates of the supernatural. Squawking indicators of a change to come. You never know with crows.
As guardians through the cycle of death and rebirth, the scintillating rainbow
colors in their dark wings remind us that even in the midst of darkness we
have the power to touch the light.
(Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams and David Carson)
The appearance of crows has long been associated with death omens, dead bodies, battlefields and cemeteries because they are thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people will soon die. The other side of that is being considered the guardians of ceremonial magic and healing. Crows have been used for divination and luck, both good and bad.
Somewhere I read that crow medicine people are masters of illusion. We should not try to figure crow out. It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen. And that’s all we really need to know about that.
As if that will stop me from counting them. And constantly checking now for the fabulous five to show up for the third time.