The Crow Herald

It’s been just over a week since I asked him to leave. At the new moon last Tuesday, I committed to transparency. To look at the last year, our year, and identify patterns. To search for the lessons in old journal entries, poems, blog posts and to uncover the truth that I must realize in order to move forward.

I have lived so much of my life in fear, and that fear has informed so many of my reactions. Now, we are collectively gripped by fear, fanned daily by the media and the ever-changing reality we find ourselves in. I don’t like where my fear has led me. Not in this. Not in so many past relationships.

The need to protect myself from perceived threat becomes greater than all else when I am in conflict with my love. Perceived threat can be blown way out of proportion by my lizard brain. In my reactivity, I seek to guard rather than to find any empathy or compassion. I retreat into myself, and the intensity of my emotion. It makes it impossible to connect. To collaborate. To build trust.

Another discovery: a “sky is falling” feeling that comes up in the face of relationship conflict. The moment I fall into that ‘perceived threat’ place, it feels like it’s the end of everything. It’s not a disagreement between two people who love each other, it’s the end. With this filter, my close friends and confidantes often get a skewed perspective of relationship. My hurt, scared, confused perspective.

I need to trust myself in my capacity to handle the unknown in love. I need to trust the love I create to be the light that guides us out of the murk together. 

This is my piece in the struggle for trust that has afflicted my romantic relationships. I’m not shouldering blame for all that went wrong, (relationship dynamic is created by both people and we both made some unhealthy choices) but if I’m not humble, where do I find grace? How do I know what to take to my mindfulness practice? To therapy?

I looked up my astrological chart last week. I’m a Leo sun, and now I know I’m a Taurus rising. This means I’m stubborn as hell, which isn’t a surprise to me, or to anyone who has tried to love me. This particular phrase felt like a gut punch: “Stubbornness and persistence can get you places. However, it can sometimes cause interpersonal problems, mainly because people close to you can be tempted to approach you in roundabout ways simply to get their way. If this persists, relationships can become toxic. Aim for more flexibility and place more value on others’ honesty and directness than peace and harmony in the moment.” (From

I have not been the partner I want to be. I want to extend the same kind of empathy and compassion to my partnership that I have no trouble accessing in friendship, or with family. I want to offer that compassion to myself as I realize where I’ve acted out of integrity. I want to create stability and trust. I want to be reliable and steady, even when I’m hurt and scared.

We met yesterday in the cemetery. This place has now become a sanctuary for me, for my child. The sunshine had returned, and it was warm enough to shed my jacket. I sat, leaning against the stone columns, watching honey bees buzzing in the dandelions and creeping veronica. As I waited for him to arrive, I saw a dragonfly. It’s not even May yet, but there it was, just above me. I was filled with light in that moment. In my family, dragonfly is widely recognized as a visit from my Aunt Jackie, whose wisdom and strength (and independence) I call on frequently.

In the realm of animal omens, dragonfly signals the presence of magic.

He arrived, and we sat eight feet apart from one another. No hug, no kiss. How does one navigate relationship strife in a pandemic? We eased slowly into a conversation. I knew I had to make space for his feelings and his beliefs, no matter what emotion either conjured in me.

A crow landed at the top of a tree several feet behind him. Crows always feel like guides to me. This one wasn’t leaving, and I felt a stirring somewhere deep inside. We continued to talk, and the crow flew over us, landing in a tree behind me, just a little up the embankment, maybe ten feet away. I remarked that it seemed to want to be closer. It started to crow.
We continued to talk, and the crow kept cawing. “I hear you,” I said.
It wouldn’t let up. I looked at my love and said,  “I think it wants me to go over there.” I stood and headed to the tree.

The crow got louder, it swooped down to a lower branch, screeching. A huge white and brown owl unfurled its wings and burst off of the bough where it slept, into the tree next to it, the crow giving chase. The crow dove at the owl, and a confetti of downy owl feathers rained down. One for me, one for my love. The great bird flew over our heads, across the cemetery, the crow in hot pursuit, still cawing away.

What kind of insane crow attacks an owl? Why didn’t the owl fight back with its huge talons? Were they playing chase? Was the owl roosting in a tree too close to the crow’s nest? 

I believe these rare moments of animal magnificence are messages. I believe that the crow wanted us to see the owl. Because of how powerful this moment was, I was open, and listening with more than just my ears. 

Crow means an invitation to transformation and new awakening.

Owl invites us to see the truth we are afraid to see.

I heard his heart. I was present. I could feel all that we have been to each other and all that we could become. I saw my worth, his worth, the intensely fragile moment of this deep, harrowing uncertainty. Not just the uncertainty of love, but of our very existence, as humans, in the world at this time.

Will we find our way back to each other? I don’t know. I believe this relationship has merit, because within it, I have uncovered so much, in such an accelerated time, about the places I still need to heal. He has met all this with continued patience. A patience that humbles me.

I can’t force this, or try to fit this connection between us into a tidy narrative. Perhaps we are only meant to bump up against each other’s wounds so that we can see how easily they still bleed? Perhaps we are the light that illuminates each other to tend to our healing. 

The cemetery, the space we shared, the dragonfly, crow, and owl have led me to my own threshold. I can step more deeply into myself and tend to what needs mending. Alone or together, I will be forever grateful for this moment.