1. Never ignore a crow. They are loud, shameless, and arrogant. And they are fucking smart. They have stature, and presence, and piercing eyes. Don’t hold their gaze. They carry themselves as if they are wearing a crown of onyx feathers. They are the monarchs of the sky.
2. On November 22nd, I got off a commuter train at 2:00 p.m., winding down a road, into a valley, going home– but I was frantic, out of my head: I’m sure it’s nothing.I’m sure he’s fine. I’m gonna fucking kill him for scaring me. I was walking fast, but a big fat fucking crow landed on a tree branch, right in front of my face, cawing. I stopped dead in my tracks, and said, in all seriousness, what the fuck is wrong with you?Jesus. This is the moment when birds started to talk to me, notice me. I recognized their collective souls. I think it’s how the dead speak to us.
Twenty minutes later, the police called. They said, how soon can you get here? I had to get back on the train, and head in the opposite direction, south to Manhattan, 125th Street, then a cab to 86th, a few steps from Carl Schurz Park, and the East River. My brother’s home on a quiet street. I used to smoke cigarettes on the fire escape, four stories up, and saw the lights over the river. He’d be cooking dinner, or packing a bong. Later, we might sit at his piano and sing a Cat Steven’s song.
The crow had an important message for me.
3. And I can’t say that I love crows, in the same way that I love a flock of starlings or a blue jay. I have more respect for crows. They’re like the Merlin of the magician’s world. You don’t fuck with them, and you don’t laugh at them. They aren’t really your friend, and certainly are not here for your amusement. They are smarter and more powerful than you. So be humble. Not everything in this life is hearts and flowers. Better make room for your shadow, and honor your ancestors. Be ready at all times to travel. This is the message from the crow.
Two weeks ago, I traveled north on a train, to visit a friend. Outside, I saw a lake, the edges frozen over, but in the center, cold and majestic, a herd of trumpeter swans. In that same world of magic and magicians, they are emissaries from the other side. They bring news of transformation whereas; the geese outside my bedroom windows are assholes. They are loud and unruly.
They are the id.
4. Two months later, I’m walking home from the grocery store, winding down that same road that slopes into that same valley of trees and river. And I’m talking to my brother, out loud. I’m saying, you should be my guardian angel now. I need to win a housing lottery, and I know you can help me. I know you can hear me. And that’s when the cardinal appeared. A flash of red, almost dream-like. The cardinal, like Hermes, is a messenger from the gods.
I hear you, sister.
5. In conclusion:
In the past two months, this is what I’ve learned: A murmuration of starlings is poetry, but also physics. Blue jays and robins are the muses of everyday life. Swans bring transformation in the dead of winter. A kingfisher is a knight in shining armor. Mourning doves are pure feminine energy, and blackbirds will guide you when you are lost, but the most important thing to remember is to never, ever ignore the crow.