I saw a Raven this morning. He was definitely a Raven, not a large and saucy Crow. He flew down from the roof of the Robin's Donut shop, landed about 3 or 4 metres away from me as we crossed the parking lot and barked loudly. (Raven barked, not me.) I greeted him warmly. Raven took exception when I moved beyond the boundaries he had set and flew away. The encounter lasted no more than a minute, but it made my day.
Raven is trickster, holder of knowledge and wisdom, respected (and sometimes feared) by many peoples. Here is a brief excerpt from Spirits of the West Coast Art Gallery about Raven: (Click here for more information on Raven from this site.)
After that meeting, I continued on with my day. As I wandered about, exploring this and that store, I came across a treasure, Barbara Walker's The Crone. If you're a knitter, you'll know that name: Ms. Walker wrote the bibles of knitting stitch patterns. Her Treasuries, along with her many other works on knitting, are considered the go-to resources for generations of knitters. What's not so well known about Ms. Walker is that, when she believed she had completed her work on knitting, she moved on to exploring many other subjects, such as Tarot and mythology. Most notably, she wrote about women, feminism, mythology, aging and power. The Crone, which was written in 1985, explores the power of the aging female. I've never seen a copy (although it's still available to order), so when I found it today, especially after I had seen Raven, it seemed like a sign. I bought it-the poor woman in the store got an earful about the importance and history of the book and Ms. Walker, whether she wanted it or not. Ms. Walker speaks of seven types of Crone, from the Lost Crone, through to the Wise Crone and finally, the Future Crone. There is much food for thought here and the words seem timely, not simply because I am in the Crone stage of my life, but also because one chapter of my life is coming to a close and I am seeking more new beginnings.
The RavenThe Native Symbol or Totem Raven: Mischievous and curious the Raven is the cultural focus of the Native Northwest Coast People. He symbolizes creation, knowledge, prestige as well as the complexity of nature and the subtlety of truth. He also symbolizes the unknown and is there to show that every person sees the world in a different way as another. The Raven was often called upon to clarify truths in visions, as the wise elders knew that what the eye sees is not always the truth. Many of the original peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast refer to him as a god, and it is believed by some that messages from the creator or the cosmos are buried in the wings of the Raven only to be released to the families most deserving of his knowledge. The Raven is a long distance healer and is known as the “keeper of secrets,” he helps us in our lives by exposing the truth of kept secrets that could potentially harm us, in doing so he helps us back to good health. The Raven was only ever feared if misused. Besides being a member of many different clans, every descendant from the Northwest Coast First Nations belongs to either a Raven or Eagle Clan. The membership was always defined by which clans the mother belonged to.
Ms. Walker, still alive and by all reports still going strong, auctioned off many of her knitting samples last year. I was fortunate to purchase one of her pieces. It's a simple, seed stitch vest in black wool. Unlike Ms. Walker's flashier work, it didn't attract much attention, but it called to me. The vest seems just as it was described: plain, black, short and wide, with a bit of waist shaping. It came with a Certificate of Authenticity and a tag signed by Ms. Walker. Like Raven, this black vest is deceptively simple, yet potentially powerful. Her power doesn't lie in her existence or her maker. Her power, like Raven's, emanates from the symbolism we attach to her. For me, this vest is about possibilities, about the creative mind and the open heart required to move from one life to another. For me, this vest is the equivalent of Leonard Nimoy's used napkin that Penny gave to Sheldon as a Christmas gift several seasons ago on The Big Bang Theory. I don't think I'll clone Ms. Walker, though. In fact, I don't think the vest will live at my house for long. She will stay only until the time comes for her to move on and then she'll find a new perch.
I don't know what Raven came to tell me today. I don't know why I had to acquire Ms. Walker's vest or her book on crones. I only know that these things happen and will continue to happen and that, if I practise allowing my mind to settle and my heart to open, I will learn those lessons I am given to learn.