Ask A Witch – June 2017

Decoding Signs From Spirit

BY Ylva Mara Radziszewski

R

ecently I was gifted a perfect single crow’s feather directly on my path, something that has never happened to me before. It felt significant. What does this mean?

Something I’ve come to believe over the years is that the meaning we ascribe to a circumstance can often be more potent then the meaning others prescribe. This is true also for the questions submitted to Ask a Witch, and for any path from which you seek advice. I will always encourage you to first look to yourself for meaning and purpose in your question, to examine what arises for you, especially in reading a response from someone else.

Of course, it is essential to check your sources and it is deeply valuable to consult the guidance of another. Perspective is the treasured lover of wisdom and we each carry such varied resources to share; however, when it comes to matters of soul and magic, it is important that you allow yourself the opportunity to first discover your relationship with the context of your inquiry.

With that said, a dear friend of mine, Gabriella, once said to me how important it is to ask the spirits to show us signs. I believe this and think it is particularly true when times get troubled or when we are of “two minds” about something. I believe that our faith gets tested by the challenge of life; I also believe it is healthy to challenge faith as we test out our choices in life. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, it’s okay to change your mind when new information presents itself. He also says that “everyone should have their minds blown once a day”—which is so incredibly hot. Anyway, I digress…or do I DeGrasse?

These challenges, choices, and changes we encounter in life help us to grow and become more ourselves. Without them we would stagnate. They help us to understand relationships and more clearly align ourselves to the service of our lives. When I think about the ways I’ve learned to make choices, I am perfumed by all of the marvelous errors of my life. They open me as they soften the memories of clunky communication and misplaced expectation. With each threshold of transformation I feel the power of past learning rising up within me. They serve as signs—emerging as allies to illuminate the choices that beg to unfold before me. They stand, empowered advisors to a changed mind and steadfast guardians of a tried and true faith in life. They remind me of when I didn’t know better, and of what happened when I acted as if I didn’t know differently when I actually did.

Signs come to us in all kinds of ways. They surface from within and they punctuate our life from outside as well. More often than not, they are subtle, like your single crow feather. In fact, I prefer signs to be subtle. They seem to be easier to interpret that way; they also seem to take less energy to integrate.

To be honest, I feel like the circumstances we find ourselves in cause us to feel more complicated than we actually are, more often than not. So when I ask for guidance and am presented with a clue or a sign from the spirits, I will often default to the simplest interpretation in response. I will look towards my memories, to past learning, and to the wisdom I have cultivated so far. I will look towards the circumstances that surround the sign and my relationship with anyone involved.

The way our lives weave and unfold is so nuanced that we may not always understand all of the intricacies or complexities, or how they relate to us. So, when we are given the gift of support through a sign from the magical world, ease up on that shit and let yourself receive it! Follow its lead and then say thank you.

Something else to consider on this subject is that when you are offered a blessing from the spirits it can be lovely to offer a blessing in return—but not out of obligation. Which brings me to another crow-feather-inspired point: Imagine you have just given a gift to a friend. It could be a tangible thing that made you think of them, it could be a phone call, or an invitation to spend time. Imagine you have done this with no other intention besides the want to support and encourage your friend. Now imagine your friend receives this gift and promptly begins to question your motives. What’s the occasion? What does it mean? What do you want from me in return? I wonder that, at times, we are challenged to believe someone would want to do something thoughtful for us just because they care, and leave it at that.

As witches we are by nature advocates, so I have to say here that this kind of doubting of the kindness of a friend—or in this case, of the spirits—is, at the deepest levels, a symptom of systemic oppression. And, when we witness such extreme oppression and isolationism as we do today, we must apply our magic to the abolition of those systems that perpetuate and profit from it. I pray daily for instruction on how I can best weave magic as an accomplice in the destruction of such divisive, abusive systems.

For me, I can’t help but apply these symbols of spirit to a global narrative. It doesn’t take a witch to read the signs of our current global political, social, and environmental climates and see we are at great risk of loosing our connection to inherent empathy. I believe one reason we struggle with altruism is because we exist within a common culture that has internalized systemic oppression. These are powerful spells that haunt our empathy and compromise our desire to show up in support of one another.

Supporting the ability of another to survive and thrive is one of the most potent kindnesses we have to gift. This is also true for the guidance of the spirits as they gift us the signs necessary for us to find courage to do the good work we are to do.

This may seem like a tangent, but it’s not: When I think of all of this, of the global narrative, of oppression, I think of crows. A huge magic I see in the crow is its voice. It seems to me that crows are the first to speak up in the presence of injustice and they are the last to be silenced. They seem so keenly aware of accountability and so relentless in the restoration of justice in the face of corruption. When I think of feather I think of focus, when I think of path I think, obviously, of direction. What about you? What’s going on with your path—with your direction? What’s feeling unjust to you? Where is it that you need to speak up?

In conclusion, when I’m gifted a blessing from the spirits I first name it as such—especially if it is a mercy. I think also about where I am in that moment. What brought me to that path where the crow feather was? What was on my mind? What was on the horizon in my life? What was the global or cultural context at that time and where might I be of the most use to that context? Did I have a question or a trouble or gratitude in my heart? The point being, when a sign presents itself, begin first by understanding the context you have brought to that moment.

The spirits offer many unsolicited blessings; however, if we are seeking meaning in our life they will undoubtedly gift us with the means to make use of those circumstances. And, heads up: Sometimes the gift they give is the answer “no.” This also is a virtuous sign not to be dismissed. Whether “yes” or “no,” a feather or bone—take those gifts and sit with what they mean to you. Sit with what they mean to the circumstances you bring. Only after you have come to one mind about the meaning would I encourage you to look up what others have determined to be true about similar gifts. As always, take to heart what has heart for you and honor the resources that brought you there.



Ylva Mara Radziszewski

Ylva Mara Radziszewski

Ylva Mara Radziszewski is a witch, folk medicine practitioner, herbalist, teacher, activist, and writer based out of Seattle, WA. She is a teacher of the witches Healing Craft and founder of Crow Song School of Traditional Magic. Ylva is also the co-founder and sole proprietress of The Cunning Crow Apothecary, an herbal boutique and healing center in Seattle, Wa. For more information about her work and to book a session visit www.traditionalmagic.com or www.cunningcrowapothecary.com.

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