Crows and Ravens are from the same family and the only real physical difference between the two is their size. Ravens tend to be much larger and are found mainly in wilderness areas although I have seen several near my home. Ravens also carry medicine that is slightly different than that of Crows, which I will cover in another article. The following though will relate to both.
Both Ravens and Crows associate with Wolves as well so those who have these birds as Totems are also likely to have Wolf as a Totem as well.
Crows and Ravens are extremely intelligent. They can learn to use tools, develop complex communication with humans and other species. They are wonderful for psychic protection and will literally mob together to drive off negative energy from those they care for. They are also called thieves in that they will nick jewelry, coins, watches, anything shiny that catches their attention. One friend of mine living in a flat in LA said that for several months people had been complaining that someone was nicking their valuables. All kinds of jewelry, pens, coins, anything left outside on a table or near an open window was disappearing right and left. A maintenance worker was clearing off some old growth from one of the palm trees when he discovered a nest filled with everything people had been missing! Months later on someone saw a Crow making off with a gold chain, back up to the top of the palm tree.
Those who carry Crow/Raven medicine once they become attuned to it, can begin drawing what they need and value into their own lives. They also have the ability to teach others how to learn to value themselves and others, to go for the gold, the best in one's life and to be open to receive from the Universe.
Crows/Ravens are also well known for their curiosity and intense exploration of anything that catches their attention. So when Crows/Ravens or people who carry their medicine show up in your life it can indicate that now is the time to explore those things that have recently caught your eye or that something new is about to enter your life that is beneficial for you so pay attention! Crows/Ravens are always on the lookout as part of their survival mechanisms and it behooves us to also pay attention when they appear as the Universe is trying to tell us something.
Crows are very social and band together for the good of the group so this is an indication that we need to work with and cooperate with others of like mind in order to bring about blessings for all beings. Crows and Ravens look out for one another and they also warn other animals when danger is near. Frequently they drive hunters mad because they are always warning Deer and Elk that the hunters are near! When a Crow or Raven is shrieking loudly near you, check around to see if someone or something that could be "harmful" is in the area. Of course when they call like that it can mean many things yet over time once you work with them frequently you will begin to understand what their messages mean to you specifically.
Many times when I am outside I will be thinking about something to do with my work or a friend and if the Crows start calling to me, I know it's a heads up that something needs to be attended to in that area of my life. They even make comments when I am situating new plants in the garden. If I place it one area and they are quiet, I know it's not the right place so I keep moving the plant until they start shrieking at me. The plants always do well when I follow their advice!
This is some of the behavior I have noticed with my own Crows. Some of it has taken me a while to decipher and I am sure I have only scratched the surface as it is! I know that when they are speaking among themselves the conversation probably starts off something like "That silly woman! The Grandfathers keep insisting she's a shaman, yet look at all the messes we have to pull her out of! Almost got myself run over on the street today trying to get her attention!"
Many has been the time I have been walking along only to have a Crow fly down into the middle of a street, in the path of oncoming traffic, banging it's beak on the ground, with me dancing around on the pavement, waving my arms and yelling at it to get out of the street! At first I really did think that perhaps they found great amusement in making me look a fool, yet then I realized that every time it happened, there was an important message that the Universe was trying to get through to me. One instance that really sticks in my mind was when they were trying to warn me of serious physical danger. The poor Crow was almost hit by a car, barely managing to get out of the way in time. I was very shaken, especially as he then followed me down the street cawing rather frantically at me. Had I heeded the warning I could have saved myself not only a great deal of heartache but avoided a very threatening situation coming from someone I thought I could trust. I had just left a the flat of a friend I was visiting when this happened and I even heard the Crow saying "Go Back! Go Back!" Well, silly me I thought the Crow meant to go back to the flat. In a way he did, go back, grab your stuff and get the hell outta there! The Grandfathers had tried to warn me, even in dreams I had, yet I ignored the messages. Finally as a last resort a Crow literally almost gave up his life to get my attention. This speaks of the amazingly strong bond and love our Totems have for us and why we should honor them in any way that is appropriate for them and us.
What else was interesting about this was normally when they do what I call their "dance" there is another Crow perched overhead on a wire or tree branch. This time there was only the one. When there are two or more I have found for me it is a good time to take some kind of risk or action as there is support and a focus being held for me to follow through and to insure a good outcome. The more Crows in the area the more support that is being offered.
I have also found that when a Crow is cawing and then turns say to the south, then I know there is an important message coming to me from someone south of me. If they tap on the phone wires then I know it is coming via email or phone. Usually if it's by phone, they tap only once or twice. Email, it's usually a head bangers ball going on up there, LOL!
Many people have mentioned to me that they know something is wrong with me if the Crows in their area are very quiet or especially noisy! Those are the times when I start getting numerous emails or phone calls asking me "what's wrong, the Crows are acting oddly so I know something is wrong with you!" And they are right! I have some very dear friends, Ted and Annie. If the Crows get too noisy over at Ted and Annie's, Ted will ask Annie to ring me so I can tell them to be quiet!
If you hear a Crow calling at night, that is a MAJOR heads up as night time is Owl time and Owls are enemies of the Crow. Owls prey on Crows at night when they are in their nests and so Crows are especially careful to be quiet when night time falls. This is a good message for those who carry Crow/Raven medicine: if you sense a predator might be near, be silent and still and wait for the situation to pass. Taking no action at those times is the best course of action. Some people who carry Crow/Raven medicine also carry Owl medicine as well. In fact, if you have one bird as a totem in actuality you may have a whole flock of birds as totems!
Another way I work with my Crows is to ask them questions about anything and everything. I phrase it so it can be answered yes or no. If it 's yes, I get a frantic cawing even before I complete the question. If it's no, dead silence even if they had been very noisy moments before. They even help me situate new plants in the garden, if I set one down somewhere and they start cawing I know that's the right place. Silence means to try a different area. They are always right as every plant I have situated following their advice has thrived where the ones that were placed according to my judgement either died or had to be moved. Usually to where the crows thought best in the first place, very sheepish grin!
My Crows also love the rain here. It can be pouring buckets outside and they are all out there splashing in the puddles, chasing each other down the pavement and spreading their wings and feathers to catch more of the rain then shaking it off again. People who carry Crow/Raven medicine often greatly benefit from washing their hands and faces frequently as water is a wonderful cleanser of negative energy. Since often Crow/Raven people are also navigators of the darkness or the underworld, it is important that these people clear their energy fields frequently so as not to take on any energy that is not their own. It also helps if you are trying to clear issues or problems in your life to add a few drops of a Crow or Raven essence to a salt water bath or even setting some Crow feathers near the tub will also do the trick. For nightmares a Crow fetish, feathers or essence even pictures of Crows or Ravens can help drive the nightmares away. It is important though to examine why you may be having nightmares and ask for guidance as how to resolve the issue.
I also place Crow feathers around the yard and garden as we live in a rather "colorful" area of Portland. As a result Ken's car and our home has not been broken into or vandalized the way our neighbors have. I have mentioned this to neighbors I thought would be receptive to the idea of asking the Crows for help and things have settled down somewhat so perhaps they have followed through. Annie and I started what we are calling the Wayward Crow Society in honour of the Crows who look in my windows and when I catch them at it, they act very nonchalant, walking away like " oh no, we would NEVER be looking in on you!" Right mates, VBG! This is an indication that sometimes it is best to keep what you are doing under wraps until the time is right to let others see what you are up to. All of the metaphysical traditions I am aware of say that it is important to allow energy and power to build inside of you when you are in the process of manifesting something important to you. Talking about it can dissipate the energy which is why it helps to talk about one's problems! Of course talking about problems too much can actually help to recreate them over and over in your life as you are putting emphasis and awareness on them. What I have found for myself and many of the people I work with is when an issue first comes up it is helpful to allow it to "churn" in your mind over a period of time, not resisting it, but journaling or talking to someone you can trust about it until you begin to sense completion around it. Sometimes what may also happen is that the conscious mind becomes so exhausted by it that it is turned over to the subconscious mind for resolution and release. Since the subconscious is where our intuition lives, we may find answers or healing in dreams or a sudden breakthrough by following a "hunch" or inner prompting. Over time you can learn what the right balance is for you to help clear the issue without recreating it so trust what you feel is right and best for you!
Crows are also associated with magic and mysticism as Ted Andrews covers very well in his book "Animal -Speak" and the "Animal Wise Tarot".