The Crow my son, that which is born of the crow is the beginning of Art. ~ Hermes Trismegistus - Mercurius ter Maximus - Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος,
"And know that the chief principle of the art is the Crow, which is the blackness of the night and clearness of the day, and flies without wings. His houses are the darkness and blackness that is in them and by them he ascends into the air, from his rising." ~ Aureus or The Golden Tractate of Hermes.
"The first is black, which is called the Crow's head, because of its extreme blackness whose crepusculum sheweth the beginning of the action of the fire of nature and solution, and the blackest midnight sheweth the perfection of liquefaction, and confusion of the elements. Then the grain putrefies and is corrupted, that it may be the more apt for generation." ~ Jean d'Espagnet 1564-1637 - Hermetic Arcanum.
THE Raven or Crow in alchemy represents the beginning of the "Great Work of the Soul." In traditional alchemical texts, its represented as the second stage of inner alchemy. known as 'the dark of the soul,' which is seen as the initial stages of the alchemist's encounter with their inner self. Represented by the alchemists as, "Nigredo, or blackness." In alchemical teachings this means the putrefaction, decomposition, or oxidation process. That is done by entering into what is initially called the dark inner world of the soul, by penetrating the external fires within through deep meditation. Psychologically speaking this process is seen as directing oneself within to find true self-knowledge. "Know thyself - γνῶθι σεαυτόν - Gnōthi Seauton; then thou shalt know the Universe and G'd."
As the Crow is commonly associated with life's mysteries, and inner transformation, its also been identified with magick and the power to manipulate the physical. This is a fundamental concept of alchemy, which is represented as Transition and Transformation. On that point, whoever is daring enough to take this journey down the rabbit hole of the psyche, hats off to them. For within the depths of darkness, they will discover the seed of their problems. This seed is seen in alchemy as the 'Prima Materia"' The alchemical magnum opus, the original quintessence of the universe. The seed from which white light is born. Interestingly the famous psychologist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, seen in alchemy the hidden metaphors for the process of individuation; and often turned to the images of alchemy and it's archetypes, mythology and religious aspects, to help him describe psychic life... "That is the process of transforming one’s psyche by bringing the personal and collective unconscious into conscious."
"To hatch a crow, from a black rainbow of emptiness, is the Great Art of the Alchemist." א☉Ω
This form of soul Alchemy, is also viewed to be a system of self-initiation: and with the Jungian idea of Individuation, that means becoming an “in-dividual,” in so far as “individuality” embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness. It also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as “coming to selfhood” or more appropriate "self-realization.” Individuation can also be defined as the achievement of self-actualization through a process of integrating the conscious and the unconscious. That’s tantamount to finding our higher selves and accomplishing our own individual wholeness. Represented by the alchemists as the spirit of corruption expelled, thus like the Phoenix being born again.
(""O seeker of the Magistery and devotee of philosophy, know that, in like manner, no metallic seed can develop, or multiply, unless the said seed, by itself alone, and without the introduction of any foreign substance, be reduced to a perfect putrefaction. The Body is to be decomposed, that is one shifts one's awareness to the inner self. The planets are both stages of the process and energies in the body to be transmuted. The Saturn star is black as Saturn reigns over Nigredo."") - - ("The Ablution teacheth how to make the Crow white, and to create the Jupiter of Saturn, which is done by the conversion of the Body into Spirit.") - - (""Through the uniting of opposites - Sun and Moon and Fire and Air are the elements stimulating the decomposition. The black crow is another symbol for Nigredo. The two birds coming out of the body are the soul and the spirit. One needs to become aware of one's soul and spirit. This is the chief Key of the whole Art."") cited from Basil Valentine - Basilius Valentinus the twelve alchemical keys 1599 and the Hermetic Arcanum.
To understand this better, we should delve into a little history of black birds: and how they have spread there wings through the collective unconscious mind of world. As this concept of collective archetypal knowledge in our cultures, is a matter for philosophical or empirical Gnostic Anthropology. As it's been designated to be the best way to examine this collective cognition of the world wide web of mind and the analogies between the different theological, metaphysical, psychological Archetypes.
Seen with Black birds like the Crow or the Raven. As the Black bird seems to capture our imaginations, for these intriguing iconic birds seem to have imprinted on the collective unconscious psyche of nearly all people of the world, in so many Ways. For instance, in many cultures there seen to be brash, inquisitive, mysterious, evasive, birds. Cloaked in a dark plumage of secrecy, magick, mystery and wisdom. Seen as cunning, curious, and playful as they show remarkable examples of intelligence. Often considered as an omen of bad tidings and death, as there seen to be symbol of Evil in some cultures and traditions. While in other traditions they are represented as messengers from the Divine. In fact in many cultures Crow's and Raven's are associated with being messengers between the worlds of the living and the dead and possessing knowledge of ancient magic, divination, and sacred law, particularly associated with that of shamans, witches and sorcerers. Curiously, its also believed that crows hold ancient memories and knowledge of the secrets of the universe, our creation and perhaps even the future. Intriguingly, the historical mythologies of these birds, reveals to us how they have etched themselves in to the collective unconscious minds of Mankind.
For the symbolism of blackbirds across many different cultures and mythologies, have very similar analogies, meanings, and archetypes. That contributes to many pieces of information, which possess the data that could help to explain the ontological unity and divide of this collective archetypal phenomenon that occurs within our beings. On that point, anthropological studies show how these blackbirds have spread their wings in the subconscious minds of many cultures. For instance, there seen to be messengers of the G'ds in Japanese, Chinese and Indian culture: also in ancient Babylon the Crow was seen to be a symbol death, for it was said that they watched the gate to the underworld. Also associated with the 13th month of the Babylonian calendar that was to be an auspicious month.
In Greek mythology there is a few stories about the "Crow or Raven." Intriguingly, the greek word for crow, Corone, Coronis, koronis, Κορωνί, was said to have been derived from the princess of Phokis, who was the daughter of king Coroneus. In this legend its been stated that Princess was mesmerizingly beautiful. So beautiful, that when the Sea God Poseidon - Neptune seen her, he instantly fell crazy in Love, and in his attempt of trying to woo and seduce her, she fled in fear. In the pursuit, its written that she cried out pleading for help to the Goddess Athena, hearing her cries the Goddess thus transformed her into a crow. Also in Greek Mythology we have the stories of the G'd Apollo, who also had an important relationships with Crows. Illustrated in the story of Coronis the daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths. Coronis was said to be Apollo’s mistress, the story goes that she was pregnant with Apollo's son, Apollo being a tad suspicious of his lover is said to have asked the White Crow to watch over the Princess, and to keep her from having Affairs. Subsequently the crow failed, and according to Ovide, Apollo got angry at the bird and turned its feathers from white to black, to punish him for bringing the bad news and not watching over his mistress.
Interestingly, it's also been written that Apollo even took the form of the Crow to guide Santorin's people to Cyrena. He also placed the Crow - Corvus in the constellations, in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere. One of 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy. Which depicts the crow perched on the back of the water snake Hydra. This constellation was also sacred to the Babylonian G'd of rain and storms, Adad. Furthermore, there is also the story of the Crow and the Pitcher, one of Aesop's Fables. Also, it’s been said that a raven stood near the Pythie of Delphes during her predictions and its said that two crows showed Alexander the Great, the road to Amon's sanctuary.
As the mysterious black bird in many cultures are also seen to be guides and protectors. For instance, in the Mithraic cult it was said that Crows could fight off evil spells. Mithras, an original soul, who was said to be a powerful Genii - ford of the Sun, known for his sincerity, justice and trustworthiness, was also said to have been seen and accompanied with a crow. For its been written that he was sent a crow by Ahura Mazda or Ormuzd, who was the Spirit of Good and Truth, who Entrusted the Crow as a messenger to tell Mithras that it was his duty to track down and kill the bull. This is Seen in many monuments, artefacts, and sculptures to Mithra.
In Australian mythology, the Crow is seen as a trickster culture hero and ancestral being, like the Native American tribes who often seen the crow or raven as a bit of a shithead trickster also. Seen as a confident mischievous bird with character and the keeper of secrets. On that point, there are several tales regarding the mischief of the Raven, who was also seen as a Symbol of Transformation. In the legends of various tribes, like The Menominee, The Caddo, The Tlingit, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. The black bird or Crow was seen to be a divine character who organizes the world and gives civilization and culture to mankind. As it was said that the Crow stole the sun from the sky's master, to give it to the earth's people. Seen as a personification of the Supreme Being, who also carried the souls of the dead to the other side. As the Crow is also seen as an intermediary between life and death. Furthermore, the Crow was also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures, because of their uncanny intelligence which the Native Americans recognized and respected. Tribal clans with the Crow include the Chippewa, whose Crow Clan and its totem are called Aandeg and the Hopi whose Crow Clan is called Angwusngyam or Ungwish-wungwa.
In auld Norse mythology, the mighty Odin had two Ravens to serve as his eyes and ears, called "Huginn-Hoo'gin - Thought" and "Muninn-Moo'nin - memory-mind." It's said these pair of ravens fly all over the world and bring information to Odin, this is why he is referred to as the ‘raven-god’. The story goes that Two ravens sit on his shoulders and whisper all the news which they see and hear into his ear; they are called Huginn and Muninn. He sends them out in the morning to fly around the world, and by breakfast they are back again. Thereby he found out many great things.
Then we have the many Druidic and Celtic legends of Crows and Ravens, like the three "birds of Rhiannon." A moon goddess who was said to appear accompanied with her triad of magical blackbirds, it's reputed that these bird songs could put its listeners into a trance like state, 'by lulling the living to sleep'. Which was said to enable people to travel to the other worlds, it's also been noted that these birds had the capability of raising the dead with their Song. Also, we have the goddess of war, known as the Mórríoghain, who is said come with a triad of birds called the three, which have been primarily associated with fate, doom and death during battle. For its been written that Mórríoghain appears in the form of a raven to observe the battlefields, like the Valkyries and Badb, accompanied by a trio of crows waiting to consume the flesh of the dead in battle. Intriguingly, the wailing cries and cawings of the Crow, lead to comparisons with that of the 'Banshee'. Interestingly, the Druids believed that in the crows cawing, there was a hidden language, and if understood, it could help decode old mysteries and higher wisdom, and also help I revealing many hidden, unknown secrets, perhaps even future events.
For it is easy to believe that if you could teach these birds to talk, they would make good familiars, with their gifts of flight, intelligence and ability to spy. For they could reveal unknown insights into nature and hidden secrets. Interestingly, many Scientists and Ornithologists today, believe that the cawing of the crow isn't just noise and squawks, but is in fact a high form of communication. For rather a lot of ornithologists have emphasized that these mysterious birds are communicating verbally and talking to one another and are doing so in a very sophisticated and advanced fashion. With some researchers curiously acknowledging that crows even have regional dialects, a difficult thing to have without a language, leaving Ornithologists and Scientists debating whether or not crows actually do have what we call language and therefore Culture!
The crow was also linked to Brân the Blessed, Bendigeidfran or Brân Fendigaidd, meaning "Blessed Crow" it's said Bran was the son of sea God, a semi-humanised giant, residing at Castell Dinas Bran, the later home of the later Kings of Powys in Wales. The legend goes, after a great battle with the Brythons and the Irish king Matholwch, for mistreating of Brâns sister the Brythonic princess Branwen. He went to war with the Irish king and was shot with a poison dart, knowing he was going to die, he asked for his men to cut his head off and for it to be buried at the 'white tower' said to be where the Tower of London is now situated. The story goes, as long as brans head remained there, Britain would be safe from invasion. Many years later, it's rumoured King Arthur who had transformed into a Crow in some tales and would transform and return one day, dug up the head of Brân; declaring the country would only be protected by himself. Because of this tale, and a few others, there have been many links with Brân to the Arthurian legends, and to the still-current practice of keeping ravens at the Tower of London, under the care of the Ravenmaster - Yeomen Warder. The Ravens at the Tower of London today are captive ravens which live at the Tower, there said to be Six in number for their presence is believed to protect the Crown, Tower and the Nation. Myth and superstition hold that if the Towers ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it. Interestingly Brân was also associated with sailors and said to be the watcher or patron saint type thing of sailors, superstition holds that this is why crows where kept on boats, as they could be released at sea and would find or fly to direction of land.
The same idea is seen in the Bible after the flood, Noah released first a raven in Genesis 8:7 To find land: "And he sent forth the raven, and it went out, back and forth until the waters dried up off the earth." Also, Elijah was fed by Ravens: I Kings. 18.104.22.168. "Go from here and you shall turn eastward and hide in the brook of Cherith, which is before the Jordan. And it shall be from the brook you shall drink, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and from the brook did he drink." There is also a Talmudic Midrash which states that the raven, is credited with teaching mankind how to bury the dead after Cain slew Abel: Adam and Eve were sitting there, weeping and mourning, a raven came and buried a bird in the sand. Thereupon Adam said, "Let us do the same" and he dug up the earth and buried his son.
As you see then, these mysterious Birds have spread their wings through most, if not all cultures of the world: and imprinted themselves firmly into the Collective unconscious mind and psyche of Mankind. Especially to their Colour, Mystery and Brazen Manor. As these mysterious birds have bound themselves and all of us together through our myths, folklores, traditions, fairytales, superstitions and history, that which has been handed down to us from generation to generation and preserved in our oral traditions, folklores and myths.
As you seen that Blackbirds have similar meanings and archetypes in the collective cultural psyche. Which is known to be that layer of the unconsciousness mind, in which all people on this planet share. It’s like an inherited unconscious frequency we are all tuned in to, a world wide web of mind or Psychic Mitochondrial DNA that links us not only to each other, but also to our ancestors. As this deep connection ties all of us together and could help explain why the same images, symbols, and archetypes, are so important in many different cultures. Which reveals to us an important window into human nature, for it offers us great insights and understanding into our own being, and the distinguishing characteristics that make us, Us. For no matter where we are located or where we are born on this planet, or race, or religion, we all share lots of the same cultural characteristics and the same collective archetypes therein, that show a unity and divide within us all as a species.
Soul Alchemy - The Alchemical Process of the Crow.
By - Paul Francis Young. ℵ☉Ω
Paintings by - Mike Davis -Lohmuller Gyuri - Gianluca Gambino - El Gato Chimney - William Waterhouse - Carolyn Moskowitz - Konstantin Korobov - Brian Despain.