A Look at the Powerful Native American Crow Medicine

crow medicine“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Crows have a bad reputation; depicted as as a scavenger, a bad omen or the harbinger of death in many myths and legends worldwide. According to folklore crows are responsible for escorting the dead to the underworld.

In Christian tradition, the crow is considered evil, the opposite of the dove. They pluck out the eyes of sinners and carry the spirit of the damned to its final destination. The crow of the Bible was selfish because it did not return word of the new world to Noah at the time of the great flood.

In Celtic mythology, the crow is associated with death and destruction especially in warfare and times of battle. Many Celtic goddesses such as Badb took on the form of the crow during war. In Greek mythology the crow was white but because of its betrayal to god Apollo he was punished and cursed so that its feathers were scorched.

However,the crow is no bird brain. Research has shown that they are capable of remembering faces. The crow recognizes those who are kind to him. They are part of the song bird family although not known for singing. Because of the complex structure of his voice box, the crow can mimic the sound of other birds, animals, car alarms and even human voices. They are omnivorous and can easily adapt to their surroundings, therefore enabling their survival.

Crow Symbolism in Native American Culture

In many Native American tribes the crow is revered as the sacred keeper of law; an oracle of divination and magic and a symbol of rebirth and change. They are a powerful spirit guides and the message of their medicine should not be ignored despite the negative myths surrounding the crow.

The Native American practice of animal medicine embraces the idea that when an animal crosses our path, whether in waking life or in a dream, its message to us has the power to heal by bringing aspects of ourselves to consciousness.

What is Crow Medicine?

Crow medicine or as the Cherokee call it, Koga Nvwati, gives us the ability to make decisions, open ourselves to change and experience magic in the world around us. The crow is a shapeshifter, thought to dwell in both the physical and the spiritual world simultaneously.

Their message offers insight into our core beliefs and values. They have known darkness and are willing to guide us through our own in order to bring us to a higher perspective. When crow appears in your life, it may be that you are at a crossroad.

crow native americanPerhaps you have been questioning yourself or fearing the future or the unknown. Crow reveals the authenticity you carry within. He awakens our intuition and his medicine gives strength to speak our truth and in doing so bring about the change that is desired.

Crow medicine is available to all that seek its wisdom.  When crow appears in your life, ask yourself what is it that requires change?  Are you being true to yourself?  Communicate with crow and ask him to guide you into the darkness of your mind and bring light to the areas that need refinement.  Be ready to listen and open to transformation.

Those with the gift of Crow medicine; should also study the raven. Although related, these birds have slightly different meanings and offer variant messages. The raven is referred to as the secret keeper and in some native folklore is a key player in the story of creation.

By escaping the darkness of the cosmos, Raven brought light to all of mankind. In other tribes, Raven is considered a Trickster: causing confusion and chaos. If raven comes into your life, it is time to examine your fears and what is holding you back from achieving your goals.

Bird medicine is sacred to native culture because of its link to the divine. They are spiritual messengers with the gift of flight. Understanding these messages is the secret to unlocking our full potential as beings and discovering our own subconscious gifts. They should not be ignored, as we have much to learn.

Images and Resources:

Crow Art by Bouvette
Crow Art by Susan Seddon-Boulet
Crows remember faces

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  • Julien Ravenheart is a transman living in Ontario, Canada. A native American on the journey of self discovery through various religious paths, including Shamanism and Buddhism.

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