Crow Divination: Part 3 of 3 - Aves Noir
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Crow Divination: Part 3 of 3

In this series, I explore a few ways in which Crows have been seen as fortune tellers, farseers, and omens. Be sure to read Part 1: Divination According to Medicine Men and Part 2: Divination According to the Druids

As we have discussed, the practice of divining from bird calls, properly called auspicy in the English language, appears to actually originate in China. Yet, as narrowly concerned with crows, it would seem the practice is an Indo-Tibetan invention with symbiotic relationship to Chinese methods.

The tradition talked about the most comes to Tibet from India. The first written record is found in the middle sixth century, in the Brihat Samhita by Varahamihira. In the early ninth century we find a Sanskrit text entitled Kakajarita translated by the pandit Danacila into the Tibetan language as Bya-rog-gi skad brtag-par bya-ba, or “Investigating the Cries of Crows.” Through incorporation of this translation into the Tibetan Tanjur, or Buddhist canon, crow auspicy became an established means of divination in Tibet.

Underlying Principles of Crow Augury

Divination through observation of crows in Tibetan tradition is founded on the following principles:

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  • 1. Crows are of varying distinction and intelligence, therefore notice must be taken of the varying classes of crows.
  • 2. Crows respond to events with characteristic behavioral patterns, therefore by noting the character of the response one may learn the character of the event.
  • 3. Crow behavior and response differs according to time of day.
  • 4. The angle of direction between the observer and the crow has significance.

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The general predictions governing crow calls are given as follows, categorized by the time of day and the direction in which the call is observed.

First Watch

6:00 am – 9:00 am

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  • East: Wishes will be fulfilled
  • Southeast: An enemy will approach
  • South: A friend will visit
  • Southwest: Unexpected profit will accrue
  • West: Great wind will rise
  • Northwest: A stranger will appear
  • North: Scattered property will be found
  • Northeast: A woman will come
  • Zenith: A demon will appear

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Second Watch

9:00 am – 12:00 pm

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  • East Near relatives will come
  • South Flowers and areca-nuts obtained
  • Southwest Numerous offspring
  • West You will set out on a distant journey
  • Northwest One king replaced by another
  • North Good news will be received
  • Northeast Disorder breaks out
  • Zenith Fulfillment of your wishes

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Third Watch

12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

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  • East: You will obtain property
  • Southeast: A battle will arise
  • South: A storm will come
  • Southwest: An enemy will come
  • West: A woman will come
  • Northwest: A relative will come
  • North: A good friend will come
  • Northeast: A conflagration breaks out
  • Zenith: You will gain profit by being taken care of by the king

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Fourth Watch

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

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  • East: Great fear predicted
  • Southeast: Great gain coming
  • South: A stranger will come
  • Southwest: A storm will rise in seven days
  • West: Rain and wind will come
  • Northwest: Scattered property found
  • North: A king will appear
  • Northeast: You will obtain rank
  • Zenith: Hunger predicted

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Sunset

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  • East An enemy appears on the road
  • Southeast A treasure will come to you
  • South You will die of disease
  • Southwest The wishes of one’s heart fulfilled
  • West Relatives will come
  • Northwest Obtaining property predicted
  • North Homage will be done to the king
  • Zenith You will obtain advantage you hoped for

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General Observations

  • Crow on right: good journey
  • Crow behind: you obtain siddhi
  • A crow flapping his wings, calls: great accident
  • Crow pulls human hair: death
  • Crow eats dirty food: food and drink about to come
  • Crow on thornbush: enemy
  • Crow on milksap tree: milkrice to you
  • Crow on withered tree: no food and drink
  • Crow on palace: excellent halting place
  • Crow on divan: enemy will come
  • Crow facing door: peril at frontier
  • Crow pulling dress: dress to you
  • Crow on skull: death
  • Crow with red thread on house: fire

Art by Marie Olofsdotter