White Crow, White Raven
Let’s say that White Crow energy is knowingly hiding facts, in order to consolidate your blamelessness. When I was younger, I was very interested in others' hypocrisy, which I didn't see in the same light as my own adolescent sneaking around. I liked sniffing out the darkness in stuffy situations, getting underneath the tablecloth and looking around in the half-light, on my hands and knees among the crumbs and stray napkins, looking up at the old gum, crusty boogers, and stray words on the banquet’s prickly underside. I wanted to undo the authority of anyone I felt was claiming power over me – especially moral power. Ha! I would say. You fuckers are just writing pulp novels about bear-rape behind closed doors. You are just snaking your feet under the bathroom stall, fishing for airport sex when you’re not busy extolling Family Values in public. It was a necessary step for surviving early adulthood in the religious and social South.
Luckily, I moved on. I understood, somehow, that when hypocrisy-hunting drops its outward focus, and comes home, it brings with it fierce defensiveness and/or self-loathing. What about you, pal? In order to remain a White Crow Hunter for very long, you need always-escalating demonstrations of the sins of others, to deflect your gorgon’s gaze from yourself. Thus, tabloids, Fox News, the Huffington Post, and much more.
White Raven energy works differently, because it’s grounded in compassion and fellow-feeling. Instead of snarking and separating, White Raven weaves black and white home together again in a new form that isn’t grey, isn’t black, isn’t white, isn’t fooled by duality, and doesn’t lapse into nonsense-oneness, either.
In my dream last night, I looked up from the street of a Swiss-German village, and saw my mother-in-law brandishing a bread she'd just baked. She was absolutely ecstatic, wanting to show me, wanting to celebrate, wanting to take her creation out into the world. No ordinary bread: a dark brown snake, intertwined with a golden snake, together forming a kind of irregular, wriggly fougasse. She left the thick-timbered walls, geraniums, and mullioned windows of the house behind her, and came running out into the street with her snake-bread, ready for whatever adventure was going to happen next. White Raven as nourishing union.
Sitting in meditation this morning, I return to the dream, bringing it into my body. Here is a white-golden snake with his head above my left shoulder, a black-blue snake with her head above my right shoulder. Weave them down, crossing at the throat, crossing at the heart, at the solar plexus, below the navel, tails out the sitting-bones. Hard to stay focused – they are snakes, alive, writhing. They are not interested in behaving themselves demurely, like the frozen caduceus on an emergency bracelet.
I need to bake this bread.
I need to make this drawing.
I need to find dark flour, to roll the snakes out in my kitchen, to oil the coils while they rise, and to seed them – flax and sesame.
I need to eat this bread.
I need to be out in the world with it, and to share it.
Robert Bosnak's embodied imagination work, which I am practicing right now, proposes that dream-images are embodied imagination-states. Each figure or character in a dream addresses a different set of possibilities for the body-mind. I experience my dream mother-in-law as expansive joy in the heart, and an open gesture in the arms. The snake-bread, I experience as an intertwining of energies: right and left, dark and light, not symmetrical, but writhing and changing.
The dream begins with a network of old, dull-red trains, pulling themselves into the village, grinding themselves to a stop. The trains are full of coal, or shadowy men, or both. They are incredibly heavy, weighted to the earth. They are the circulation of the body of the town, opaque, powerful, metal and earth. In the body, I experience them as ground, roots, earth, stability in the legs and seat.
In the dream train-station is a corner alcove, containing a tower-shaped white marble instrument that flutes all by itself. No coins needed, no visible mechanism, no musician – it simply allows air to pass through, and makes sound. If I listen in, the music is high and sweet – not annoying, as I first take it to be. It pours forth, whether anyone listens, or not. The windows in the tower may or may not be finger-stops for different notes, but there are no fingers. The top of the tower tapers to where a mouth could blow, but there is no mouth. This tower-flute, in the body, I feel as a clear channel from root to spine, and as a fluttering in the fingers.
Here, then, is an embodied dream-prescription, a White Raven soupe-du-jour recipe, for body-heart-mind and soul:
Take the deep ground and power of the train, in the lower body,
the joy in the heart and the outward motion with the arms,
the snake-paths bringing together left and right, light and dark, in living patterns of energy throughout the body, especially the belly,
the whole-spine clarity of the flute that makes music without any visible cause,
the fluttering in the fingers.
…and hold these together in the body for as long as possible, as often as possible.
White Raven will be there.
Bringing White Raven energy home in the body requires both real work, and deep relaxation. Relax does not mean fall asleep comfortably in your chair, and hope for the best. Work does not mean stiffen in your chair, solving the world’s problems as your own. In fact – what are you doing in that chair? There’s dark flour to be kneaded. There’s drawing to be done. There are tears to be wept, dogs to be combed, dreams to be dreamed, unruly snakes to be followed, coaxed, harnessed, and set free.
Elliot freaks out, goes beyond what his dog-mind can tolerate (the mailman! the horror!) and goes medieval on Chloe. She fends off his freaky ass, and one minute later, they’re pals again. White Raven knows: there’s this, and there’s that, but there’s also this-that, always dancing just beyond the categories we think we need, to keep things straight.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now