What is the Order of the Storm Crows? And what exactly is a storm crow? I’ll begin with by answering the latter question. Well, a storm crow is a bird. The yellow billed cuckoo to be precise. A migratory bird found in the eastern U.S., Central America and northern South America. The colloquial name of this little fellow is the “storm crow” or “rain crow”, because its call can be heard just before a storm arrives. This particular bird acts as kind of a natural old fashion storm alert. Also, storm crow is one of the names given to Gandalf the Grey in the Lord of the Rings series. So given to him because he seems to show up bearing news, usually of the foreboding nature. His task in Middle Earth involves keeping an eye out for the return of Sauron, and other dark forces, then in turn warn of the coming storm. In folklore of many cultures the crow is a messenger, often of the gods. This the inspiration and spirit behind the creation of this order.
In a sense Order of the Storm Crows is kind of a druidic order, but yet so much more. The Order seeks to expand the understanding of what a druid is in the modern world. So, what is a druid? The beliefs and teachings of the druids, were unfortunately, lost a millennia ago. Today we know very, very little of who and what the ancient druids were. What we do know about the ancient druids, is that they functioned as philosophers, teachers, spiritual leaders and political advisors. Now, let’s look at the word druid. Researching the etymology of the word druid, it gets interesting. Druid has multiple derivations dated back to proto-Indo European (PIE). Most of these derivations refer to trees, wood, sight, and knowledge. For example the Old Celtic root derwos meaning “true”, which comes from the PIE root deru meaning “tree”, and Old Celtic wid “to know” from the PIE weid “to see”*. It becomes obvious that ancestors held trees as sacred and those dedicated to learning the ways of nature and seeking enlightenment were likened to trees. There are other derivations of druid that mean something akin to a “wizard”, “magician” or “sorcerer”. Of course, I’m not literally referring to a magical wielding character from fantasy movie shooting lightening bolts or casting spells, but more in the sense of a wise and learned person. Which leads to the question, who are we as modern druids? I believe that, the roles mentioned previously, need to be brought into the present, and examined with a modern lens. This what I hope to do with the Order of the Storm Crows. I want to strip away the New Age fluff that has infected so many modern practices, with it’s racism, cultural misappropriation, toxic positivity, it’s self-help guru grift, the delusions of grandeur, and the commodification of spirituality. With this in mind, I seek to create an earth based practice rooted in the past, grounded in the present, looking towards the future. Not just a practice, but also a state of being, guided by reason and the laws of nature, tempered by compassion and empathy for others. A group of like minded individuals, if you will, dedicated to the pursuit of truth, the defense and preservation of nature, and the betterment of mankind. Druidry, especially in the modern sense, is not a single path and will vary from region to region and practitioner to practitioner.
To further explain what I mean by all this, we’ll start with the Storm Crow motto, or what I like to call the three eyes of the storm crow: Knowledge – Vigilance – Justice.
Knowledge: There is so much more to knowledge than just facts and information. Awareness is key. The more knowledge we acquire the more we are able to cultivate our awareness of the world around us. And in doing so, we begin to free ourselves from ignorance, which is the mother of fear which begets hate. When we educate ourselves we become more receptive to the world. Our ignorance shrivels and begins to fade away. This clears our eyes, and the shroud that has been binding our sight lifts. The more we know, the better we can assess the goings on, the people, situations, etc., etc., around us, and even our own perspectives and the place we hold in the world.
Experience is an important key to expanding knowledge and awareness. Through experience we are able to experiment with the knowledge we’ve gained from academic pursuits. And discover, if what we learned is of use or not. Without experience the facts and information we have learned are just words, but with experience we can grow our knowledge into wisdom.
Storytelling is a very powerful method to impart knowledge and wisdom and tradition. I can tell you from experience that I have learned so much more in the way of reading, watching or listening to stories with underlying messages and facts added in, than I ever did from sitting down reading a textbook or a dissertation. Storytelling has been an essential part of human existence and a powerful teaching tool, since the being of humanity. Wether, they’re in the form of myths, legends, folktales or even the modern mediums of movies and television. This is what the first eye watches.
Vigilance: As our awareness of the world grows, this is where vigilance comes into play. So… this ties in with both the knowledge and vigilance aspects, when I was in the military we had a term know as situational awareness, which basically means being aware of your surroundings at all times. This is how I view the role of vigilance. We have this obligation to always be vigilant against the wrongs of the world. To be aware of coming storms (threats). To clearly recognize such things as racism, bigotry, injustice, the suffering of others, corruption, and the especially the rise of authoritarian regimes.
It is not just external threats and conditions that we need to be vigilant of, there is also internal thinking that creates problems. As we grow and evolve we must keep an open mind, but also a healthy dose skepticism is vital. It is important that we are not fooled by our own ignorance and our own fears to become trapped in paranoia or conspiratorial thinking. Moreover, it most vital to be cognizant of our blind spots in our sight and mind, and prevent ourselves from becoming arrogant and steeped in rigidity and a false perception of knowledge, which can be far worse than ignorance itself. Such thinking fights against the flow of Awen. To avert such thinking, it is necessary to ground ourselves in the mundane and keep a humble mind. Being vigilant is the view of the second eye.
Justice: It is though justice that we achieve a proper and harmonious relationship with all peoples, entities and nature itself. Justice is not merely an abstract concept but truth in motion, like a river flowing down from a mountain. It is speaking out against the ills of the world, holding people accountable for their actions, especially those responsible for the wanton destruction of the environment and the violent and oppressive means of retaining power. Also we must stand in solidarity to with each other to uplift everyone and not just the few. It is defending the environment and all beings human and non-human. It is the force that washes away greed and corruption. It is the restorer of balance. Until there is justice for all living beings, we can never have peace. Justice is the third eye of the storm crow.
On spirituality: There’s a running joke in the druid community, “Ask any 3 druids, What is a druid? And you’ll get 9 different answers.”
As I mentioned previously, druidry is not a single path. Rituals, practice, deities and such are a personal choice. Order of the Storm Crows doesn’t to push any single flavor of spirituality or any sort of religious belief. We are more about using our personal beliefs to help others and to protect the environment. The order promotes kindness, understanding and service to humanity. We try to paint a vision of possibilities for a more enlightened world and better tomorrow, and inspire ourselves and others to live the future we want to manifest. Walking towards that future one small step at a time. The order is a way point for individuals with the common vision of a better world to come together to share experiences, ideas and dreams. Storm crows also value critical thinking, the power of the imagination, and the rebellious spirit that challenges the status quo. It doesn’t matter which gods you believe in or not, or what your personal spiritual path is, you are welcome here. We see diversity as strength. As long as your ideology/theology is not hateful or harmful towards others. We cannot poison our well with ideologies of hate or allow hate groups to flourish. Intolerance cannot be tolerated. Crows and ravens both are known as shapeshifters in many cultures. And so must we be. Always be ready for change, we must be able to adapt to new circumstances, and survive any storm that may blow through.
What is your role in all of this? That’s up to you. What are your talents and skills? What resources do you have available to you? Do not feel overwhelmed by the immensity of all this. Even the smallest acts of kindness can reverberate far distances.
Good luck to you my friends and peace to your hearts.