Tuesday, September 04, 2007


A few months ago, Annie O'Shaughnessy at Soul Flares, https://www.soulflares.org/ wrote a piece about animal totems and invited reader response. I wrote her about my first animal totem experience and how it led to the first of my Shapeshifter series, 'Crow'.

Here is part of the letter and below it the short story I wrote that is part of the 'Crow' shapeshifter piece.

It was great to revisit the experience that inspired this whole series. I hope you enjoy it, too.

"Dear Annie,

I am of a celtic ethnic origin and so the idea of animal totems did seem 'wierd' to me at first. The idea also fascinated me but I felt that not being of a certain ethnicity, I could not go there. Now, I look back at myself and smile softly with a little shake of my head. I understand. I realize that the art I create is full of totems even if they are not stacked one on top of the other or carved into a tree trunk, they are my totems all the same. "


I know a bird.

He is strong and black and wise. He travels many worlds, through different times and knows creatures I can’t even begin to imagine. Today, he is a common crow. If you look at him now, that is what you’ll see. But his shape changes. He could be that dark-haired woman walking briskly with bracelets jangling. He could be a child from the past, part of an ancient tribe, trout fishing. Or he could be that man in the park with the bead in his beard, the daypack and heavy boots who seems to disappear just when I start wondering whether or not he is homeless. Perhaps, he has more homes than I think.

My shape never changes. I feel locked on the ground with two feet and I see only what is in front of me. My friend has no such limits. He tells me that he has been many shapes in many times and places. His wisdom and knowledge is beyond my perception.

One day, he swooped down landing on top of a fence and screeched. I jumped back shocked out of my mindless internal scrap heap. He was so big and bold, so close to me that all I could do was stare and listen. In this way, we became teacher and student. His teachings showed me all the small ways we are all connected. Some days, as I walked, he flew by with information about sites ahead as I traveled. Other times, he warned squirrels and other birds that my dog was on the prowl. Another day, I might be out driving and suddenly a crow landed on a stop sign, then later on a street sign I passed and then again on a tree near the road and I am gently prodded out of my; mindlessness. It made me wonder at all that is around me. It caused me to question the easy consensual reality in which I so mindlessly exist.

I have read that some people can see shape-changers and others just see the shape they want to see. I’ve never seen my friend change shape. But I do know I sometimes sense something out of the corner of my eye but by the time I turn to ”look” it is gone. Just because I haven’t actually seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’ve learned, now, thanks to my friend and teacher, that there is much more to the world than I can see and touch and tasted and smell.

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