Every attempt at organization seems to have totems. On the West Coast of British Columbia there are Totem Poles. But not every attempt at organization calls their totems "totems".
In knitting, the totems are knit and purl. Other places they're called formulas or even recipes. Some call them rules, some call them predictions, and some call them guidelines. I've heard reference to morality and religion, society and law, code and blueprints, keys and even channeling. There's direction, instruction, ethics, honour and philosophy.
Code words. Totems. Systems of organization.
Like Eskimos and snow we can't find enough words to describe, glorify and attempt to control the forces within and without that buffet us on the sea of life.
Nevertheless, we keep on trying.
For as long as I can remember, Crows have been a part of my totem structure.
When I was a child my brother brought home a baby Crow found at the bottom of an old tree. That baby Crow, he'd been pushed from the nest. Henry we called him, lived with us for a time.
Henry provided lessons and entertainment when I lived with him and desolation and trauma when he left.
I was "impressed".
Since Henry I've befriended many Crows. Crows can learn.
A study(1) I read about in the paper not too long ago had a male and female Crow being tested on their use of tools. The female Crow figured out how to bend something and then used it to catch a piece of food. It took her awhile to figure it out, but she did it! The male Crow tried it a few times and then simply bullied the female Crow until she did it for him.
Crows learn fast.
These days if I'm sitting in the wheelhouse with my back to the dock my current Crow friend will caw to get my attention. If I tease and ignore, he'll spread the tiny feathers on his head in an absolutely charming display cunningly designed to show that I'm churlish if I resist. I'll then provide bits of bread, crackers or cookies for a treat.
Crows can learn. We can learn. There's a continuity there and so I keep watching my totem.
Late in the day the Crows in my neighbourhood will all gather together and fly to McDonalds presumably for a Big Mac? It's a documented phenomenon. I watch Murders of Crows surfing in the down draft, practice their synchronized flying and play some sort of Crow tag game. They'll even join up with the seagulls from time to time to harass an eagle pair that has recently moved to the neighbourhood.
People like this sweater and they often tell me their Crow stories when I wear it. I got the Crow charts used in this sweater from a library book.(1) Thank you! Throughout my life there have been Crows. Many things have changed and become different and have been lost and others have been gloriously found but for me Crows have always been there. Nile disease, SARS, AIDS, weapons of mass destruction, oil spills, rainforest pillaging ~ I see these things and many others as something that could seriously interfere with my totem ~ with my system of organization.
Crows are cooperative breeders (notwithstanding the bully mentioned above) and all family members, juveniles and parents, will gather nesting materials. Not only will crows defend and protect their own family but also they will come to the aid of unrelated Crows in need or distress.(2)
Me and the Crows, we see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.
(1) If this was your study or book, please make contact.
(2) For the Love of Crows ~ was taken from a site called: www.zeebyrd.com. Last time checked (March 2011), the site no longer existed.