" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

December 9, 2011

The Crow: Examining the Dark Side of Life

Unfinished work by Robert Pollien ...
how appropriate?
Crows have always been one of my favourite birds.
I love the sounds of crow calls in the morning and I love watching a crow in flight. 
As you can probably tell, I'm not a farmer;-)
And although they can be portrayed in a positive light, it saddens me that people seem to project their fears on to crows.
Not that I find the image below frightening.
The pentagram to me is a good symbol,  just like the cross, or the Star of David.
Although there are a lot of people who project their fears onto those symbols as well.
I have just finished reading James O'Barr's graphic novel The Crow, and it truly is a masterpiece of a work, if not a dark masterpiece.
It was also made into a motion picture which ended up having it's own dark back-story with the tragic death of Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, who also died tragically young.   
James O'Barr wrote this novel as a way of working through his anger and grief over the death of his girlfriend when she was killed by a drunk driver.
The plot as retold from the Wikipedia site is;
"The story revolves around an unfortunate young man named Eric. 
He and his fiancΓ©e, Shelly, are assaulted by a gang of street thugs after their car breaks down.
Eric is shot in the head and is paralyzed, and can only watch as Shelly is savagely beaten and raped. 
They are then left for dead on the side of the road.
He is resurrected by a crow and seeks vengeance on the murders, methodically stalking and killing them. 

When not on the hunt, Eric stays in the house he shared with Shelly, spending most of his time there lost in memories of her. 
Her absence is torture for him; he is in emotional pain, even engaging in self-mutilation by cutting himself.
The Crow acts as both guide and goad for Eric, giving him information that helps him in his quest but also chastising him for dwelling on Shelly's death, seeing his pining as useless self-indulgence that distracts him from his purpose."

  James admits "as I drew each page, it made me more self-destructive, if anything ... There is pure anger on each page"
" In 1978, O'Barr's fiancΓ©e, Beverly, was killed by a drunk driver, and he joined the Marines in an effort to cope with the loss. 
He was stationed in Germany and illustrated combat manuals for the military. 
While living in Berlin in 1981, O'Barr began work on The Crow as a means of dealing with his personal tragedy.
O'Barr was further inspired by a Detroit newspaper account of the murder of a young couple over a $20 engagement ring.
 After his discharge from the Marines, O'Barr continued his painting and illustration as well as doing lots of odd jobs, including working for a Detroit body shop. 
The Crow sat on a shelf for seven years, but at last someone wanted to publish it:  
Gary Reed of Caliber Press.
 In the 1990s O'Barr was affiliated with the experimental metal band Trust Obey, which was signed briefly to Trent Reznor's Nothing label before the band was dropped. Trust Obey released the album Fear and Bullets: Music to Accompany The Crow in 1993. 
The album was packaged with a special edition of The Crow graphic novel."
I  saw the movie A Serious Man, made by the Coen brothers, last year.
It was based on the Job story from the Bible, where the main character cops almost every curse God  could give out to him. 
Oddly enough, the James O'Barr (J.O'B?) story is almost the opposite where the main character dishes out almost every curse he can to all the other guilty characters in this Godless place.
I often wonder how I would cope with a tragedy like James has had to face, but of course I never want to know.
Last weekend I saw the film We Need to Talk about Kevin, a rather nasty little film about the aftermath for a mother that has to live through the nightmare of being the mother of a homicidal maniac who shoots students to death at his High School, plus other atrocities committed by him .
I saw it because my eldest son is named Kevin, and I'm glad to say that's where the similarities end.
It was more a study of how a mother has to cope with a son that just literally will not play ball with her.
It's more of a "what did I do to deserve this?" type of movie.
And if you try to put yourself in her shoes throughout the movie I think you will see just what a mess someone like Kevin could make of someone's life.
The movie is about her, not Kevin.
So, if you see this movie, ask yourself - what would you do in this situation?
I'm sure that after a tragedy like James faced with his girlfriend being killed, that he had to channel his rage somewhere and this artwork was his therapy ... although by reading interviews he gave later, how effective it was in his trying to heal himself is debatable?
Sandy MacGregor on the other hand has channeled his grief into more positive areas, and has helped innumerable lives as well as his own in the process.
He is a Vietnam vet who had three daughters murdered by a maniac with a shotgun in their own home.
You can hear him tell his story on the You Tube audio above, or visit his website on the link below to see what he has done since this tragic event intruded into his life.
As soon as I wrote the above lines about Sandy MacGregor and how forgiveness played a much healing role in his life, I  went over to listen to what Barry Eaton's radio program was about last night and low and behold it was "The Power of Forgiveness in Healing".
It is really worth a listen. It is a real good addition to what I'm trying to write here.
Caiseal Mor sums it up pretty well on page 191 
of his book What is Magic by writing, "Like a stone thrown into a pond our (energy) is capable of rippling out to touch many people.
 As the consequences of our actions spread out and the reactions filter back to us, (energy) is returned in the same form it was sent out.
From my own observations I can definitely say that if I live in bliss and share that bliss with everyone around me; all that returns to me is bliss.
If I choose fear,on the other hand, things can get pretty ugly.
If I allow other people to impose their fear onto me I will likely get dragged down into a very negative (energy) cycle."
A popular and much-quoted example derived from chaos theory illustrates how the smallest action can have devastating effects.
The theory is illustrated like this.
The flapping of a butterfly's wings in the rainforest of the Amazon jungle can set in motion a chain of events that culminates in a hurricane striking the coast of Florida.
As extreme as this scenario may seem it's true that the tiniest of influences can change the course of events in the mundane world."

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I often wonder if Brandon would still be alive today if The Crow was never written, or if it was just how things were meant to be?
"In his 1996 book ‘Bruce Lee; Fighting Spirit’ Bruce Thomas includes a chapter called ‘The Shadow’ which includes statements made by Bruce’s family and friends telling of his battles with a black shadowy figure in his sleep which held him down – a typical symptom of sleep paralysis.  
He described to friends and family about having battled in his sleep with a ‘black shadow’ which he said held him down for several minutes and the effort of fighting it left him drenched in sweat.
Lee was supposedly haunted by personal demons as well.  
He had premonitions that he would die at half his father's age of 64 (which he did at 32)
In fact, he died just three and a half months prior to his father's death. 
Brandon Lee (Bruce's son) also died at a young age when a prop gun was accidentally loaded with a live bullet; the same way that Bruce's character faked his death in Game of Death.
Some would say that this novel is too violent, too dark, or too evil. 
But you could say the same about most of Shakespeare's plays as well.  
I think there are lessons to be learned in reading material like this and sometimes we should examine the darker side of life.
The trick is not to identify with the negative aspects of it too closely.
Perhaps like Heath Ledger did when playing the Joker?
Remember that it's only your thoughts that determine how you feel about a half full glass of water.
 A few syncs to mention also.
When I was looking up the meaning of what crows mean in the shamanic sense in the Animal Dreaming book, I noticed on the spine both had kangaroo's with something in their pouch.
The one on "The Crow" was reading a book and had another in it's pouch.
The Animal Dreaming book had a baby kangaroo looking out.
 Also the Crow's cat's name in the graphic novel is Gabriel, which to me harks back to the Peter Gabriel song, Digging in the Dirt, that was playing when I was burying my cat.
I guess what I am trying to say with this post could be summed up nicely in these few paragraphs from Caiseal Mor's book 
What is Magic,"It makes me sad that our culture seems to be fixated on competition, one-upmanship and revenge.
When I'm offended by someone I run the risk of conjuring up very negative images of them.
Sometimes I search for faults in that person to justify my anger and disappointment.
In my experience this sort of reaction only adds fuel to the fire of their negative aspects.
And it brings out my own bad side.
If something isn't done about it the downward spiral can become unstoppable.
This exercise represents my understanding of magic at its most basic.
As you think so you make the world.
The important point I'd like to make here is that  any nagging worries of fears you have lurking at the back of your mind will most certainly affect you every day of your life.
Awareness of these background attitudes can help change perspective and refocus your life."
And from Scott Alexander King's book Animal Dreaming, this passage about Crows;
"As creatures of the void (indicated by their black feathers), Crows are believed to exist in the past, present and future simultaneously, to embody darkness within light and light within darkness and to watch over all the worlds and dimensions from all viewpoints in chorus. 
They make little distinction between right and wrong, but acknowledge the necessity for the existence of both.
Without them, we wouldn't learn the lessons afforded by choice.
According to legend, when Crow appears, she is challenging our perceptions while daring  us to follow her deep into the Void, into our consciousness, to strengthen our principles and our relationship with Spirit.
Crow encourages us to seek the wisdom found in the inner silence and to ponder our actions and reactions to life.
Apparently we inherently know the difference between right and wrong.
Crow asks us, therefore, to trust our judgement and make the most sensible decision when one is required.
Her appearance generally heralds a sudden but necessary change, a wake-up call, or a lesson in self-discovery.
Crow is one of the sacred keepers of Universal Law and the custodian of ancient records.

Crow demands that you listen to your instincts and act upon them in a way that honourably  serves your purpose.


  1. You certainly give value for money in your posts! I see you included the Cornish shield. The bird is a chough, from the crow family. They have recently been reintroduced to Cornwall after becoming extinct in the county.

    Crows, rooks are one of my favourites too - very intelligent birds.

  2. I actually came across it in a link off George Orwell's (Eric Blair) biography on Wikipedia.
    But I was aware that you also came from that part of England.So it was a nod to both of you really.

  3. You've added some stuff since I was here last,reading about this crow entry. Rob's sister's name is Sandy. When I come here, Daz, I feel like I'm walking into The Matrix.