The Rooster Crows – Awake

The Rooster

Sigmund Freud once wrote, “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.”  The other day, a close friend confided that she had the most wonderful dream about a brilliantly plumed rooster. This was an extraordinary event considering that my friend’s last contact with chickens was as a child many years ago.   From what I understand, the rooster decided to live in her yard, which was problematic given strict city ordinances.  The main focus of her dream was problem-solving on how to keep the rooster.

I was curious.  What was the significance of a rooster?  Compared with other mythological birds such as the Gryphon, the Thunderbird and Phoenix, the rooster seems rather commonplace.  Quite the contrary. Over the centuries, the rooster has garnered a prodigious status in the magical lore arena.   A powerful masculine symbol, he embodies the brilliance of the sun, and exudes the excellent qualities of bravery, strength, prudence and honesty.  Of course, there may be a tendency to exhibit some arrogance and excessive flamboyance.  But with the frilled comb on his head, and vibrant plumage, it would be difficult not to “strut his stuff.”

In ancient times, the rooster, with his solar power and masculine energy, was the sacred sign to the gods, Apollo, Persephone and Zeus.  Later, people believed they could harness this same energy by eating the bird, a foreshadowing of one of our most popular soups –  chicken broth, which is thought to have an invigorating effect. In the Chinese Zodiac, those who are born under the sign of the rooster are enthusiastic and have a marvelous sense of humour.  Many Christian churches have chosen to include the rooster on their weather-vanes,  which can be seen as  a sign of spiritual enlightenment.

Roosters that appear in dreams are said to be reminding us to the passing of time.  With their spirited cock-a-doodle-doo, they prompt us to live boldly, to use our talents, to look within, to awake.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

Carl Jung



“On a bare branch a crow is perched – autumn evening”
Matsuo Bashō

The time has come.  It is the dusk of autumn and winter months.  I watch them from my window, flying towards the east.  At first there are only a few; then they come in random patterns that grow in strength.  It is always the same.  There is a symmetry and dignified elegance to their flight, which is rooted in the inevitability of a long-standing tradition.   Crows are returning to their roost.   Since the 1970’s, an estimated 3,000 – 6,000 crows share a dusk-to-dawn abode that covers the area of about two city blocks in Burnaby, British Columbia.  Forty years ago, trees were more plentiful, but the crows pay no mind to the urban sprawl that has reduced the foliage. This is their place and their numbers do not diminish.  Scientists and bird-watchers are fascinated by the daily migration.


Our generation is not the first to recognize the unusual characteristics of the crows, now believed to be among the world’s most intelligent animals. Over the centuries, crows, with their black plumage and startling caw, have garnered prominence in many myths and legends. In Irish mythology, the war-goddess Badb, takes on the form of a crow and joins her two sisters, Macha and the Morrigan to form the trio of war goddesses known as the Morrígna. The indigenous peoples of the Russian Far East revere Kutkh the raven spirit, appearing in their legends as a mighty shaman and trickster, similar to the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.  Three-legged crows appear in the mythologies of East Asia where they are thought to inhabit and represent the sun.  In Chinese mythology, the sun crow is called Yangwu.  Japanese mythology considers Yatagarasu, an eight-span crow, as a sign of divine intervention in human activities. In Korean mythology, the three-legged crow is named Samjok-o, a symbol of the sun and great power.



I walk with crows that share the pathway along the Vancouver Seawall.   While they guard their territory with a proprietary determination, they have come to recognize my presence and agree to pose for my camera.  I look forward to our conversations, and suspect that I am at the greater disadvantage.  They seem to understand my language more than I do theirs.  There is a bond between us, however. That is, the need for community and belonging.   We seek the company of those we love and feel a kindred bond.    Just as the crows gather in the fading light of a November evening, we look forward to the shelter and safety of homecoming.