Crow Manitou, or Crow Man, was a wise and gifted Medicine Man. Among his tribe, his manitou (spirit power) was considered the most powerful of all manitous. Stronger than Bear Manitou, wiser than Wolf Manitou, and more clever than Coyote Manitou even. For this reason Crow Man was the chosen protector of his tribe; but he was often called upon as more than a protector. As his tribe’s medicine person he was their healer, their magician, their counselor, and their priest.
Now Crow man had an enemy. Where Crow Man was wise his enemy, the serpent, was devious. Where Crow Man came as a helper to mankind, the Snake Woman came to destroy him. In each life, Crow Man and Snake Woman would come into conflict with each other, in one form or another, for the fate of mankind. When Crow man was the victor, peace would be upon the earth for one generation until the Snake Woman appeared again in her next life and the cycle would repeat itself. Conversely, Snake Woman’s victory would bring war, famine, and disease to the land and death to the people.
In this life, Crow Man fell in love with a man... which was not unusual because Crow Man had loved both women and men at various times in his many lives; but this man, the man that he loved, was special. Crow Man’s beloved was a man who studied the stars and sought to travel to them. The love between Star Man and Crow man drew the attention of Snake Woman, who despised love, denied love, and perverted love to her own ends…. and so Snake Woman sought to destroy the Crow Man by destroying all that he loved.
Snake Woman knew that Star Man and others like him who shared his dream of visiting the stars had built a great spear; a silver spear that could pierce the heavens and touch the stars. Snake Woman sought to turn this spear into a weapon of unimaginable power with which she could destroy not only Star Man, and Crow man, but all men... everywhere. So Snake Woman slithered into Star Man’s tribe and, by her foul magic, counted herself among his friends. Her hatred of mankind was so great that she sought to point the great spear at a tribe beyond the sea inciting a war in which there would be no winners. Upon seeing Snake Woman, Crow Man recognized his enemy and the battle was joined. Crow Man and Snake Woman fought valiantly beneath the great spear and Snake Woman was cleverly able to launch the spear at the cost of her own life, her body burning up in the fires beneath the great spear.
Now Crow Man, in his wisdom, knew that his single life was not as important as the lives of all the people in all the world. And so Crow Man embraced Star Man and kissed him. "If I don't come back" Crow Man began. "Shhhhh" Star Man interjected "just come back." And then they kissed once more as Crow Man melted into shadows only to appear seconds later as a huge, towering Crow made of shadows and yet glowing with a tangible power. So large was this shadowy figure that its wings would span the length of the vast expanse of the canyon in the northern mountains.
Star Man watched in awe as the Crow Shadow took to the skies in pursuit of the great spear, flying faster than any bird has ever flown before. The Crow Shadow clutched the great spear in its mighty claws and, sacrificing himself, carried it into the sun to be swallowed up in its cleansing fires. As his body burned up in the fires of the Sun, Crow Man’s last thoughts were of Star Man and then there was darkness. His remains fell to earth as ashes where they were scattered by the cold and unforgiving winds that blow without ceasing.
Star Man waited for many days and weeks for his lost love to return to him, vowing to wait for him always. The Grandmothers and Grandfathers tried to comfort Star Man because they too had felt the pain of loss at one time or another in their own lives, but he would not listen.
When three moons had come and gone, Turtle Man, approached Star Man saying “Come with me and let me be a husband to you and we will share a long life together.” But Star Man replied “Would if I could, but I love you not; and better it be that I live out my days alone that with someone I do not love.” And Turtle Man bowed his head and slinked away.
And when another three moons had passed, Bear Man appeared before Star Man saying “Come with me and cleave to my chest. My strength will be yours and you will be mine through many winters and many springs.” Again, Star Man replied “Would if I could, but I cleave to the memory of another. To him I belong and I simply cannot give myself to you.” And Bear Man growled and ambled away.
And yet when another three moons had passed, Wolf Man came to Star Man and said “Come with me and we shall run through the hills and the forest with my pack, we shall be brothers, and share in the glory of the hunt.” Star Man answered saying: “Would if I could, but you are not my brother and I have no desire to run through the hills and the forest because what I seek cannot be found therein.” And Wolf Man disappeared into the shadows.
After all this time, no one would approach Start Man again. He became something of a ghost among the people. Coming and going in silence, being seen and yet unseen at the same time neither speaking to nor being spoken to...only spoken of and only then in whispers. “There goes Star Man, poor thing” the sons and the daughters would mutter to one another in hushed tones as he passed by, “when Crow Man died he took Star Man’s soul with him.” “Hush” the mothers and the fathers would admonish them, “leave him be.”
At night Star Man would stand outside, and search the skies for some sign of his love just as he once dreamed of visiting the stars.. “Just come back” he would whisper into the darkness, but the darkness did not respond. In time, a murder of crows would gather in the nearby trees and observe Star Man as he, in turn, observed the heavens. At first there were only a few of them, but their numbers grew each night. One night the crows came down from the trees and gathered around Star Man. In his pain the Star Man cried out at the crows "Go away you damn birds!" But the crows were just as silent as the darkness. With the rising sun, Star Man began to make his way home only to have the crows follow him. At first they simply walked behind him, but Star Man walked faster, and so the crows flew around him at a distance moving closer and closer swirling about him with the anger and fierceness of a whirlwind and he was filled with fear.
Star Man screamed and once he began screaming he could not stop. It was as if a dam had given way inside him and a flood of emotions burst forth out of him. So violent was his screaming that it felt as if Star Man’s cries came from a place buried deep within his own soul and all his anger and grief spilled out of his body in the form of an nebulous shadow. Star Man watched as the shadow danced among the swirling crows, seemingly swallowing them up. The shape grew will each crow it swallowed becoming a large shapeless shadow and Star Man feared that the shadow would swallow him next.
To his surprise, the shadow began to take on a vaguely human shape…. a shape that he began to recognize, the shape of his beloved Crow Man. When Star Man saw Crow Man he ran to him, they embraced and kissed one another for what seemed like a lifetime. When his shock and surprise began to abate, Star Man could only form one word, "How?" It was then that Crow Man placed his hand over the Star Man's heart and spoke for the first time saying "When last we kissed, I put a part of myself inside you so that I could find my way back to you again."
And seeing that Star Man did not understand, Crow Man continued saying, “Death could not take me because Death could not take all of me.You see, my precious one, it was all of my love that I gave you which allowed me to escape Death and return to you now. And because you endured the loneliest days of your life, never gave up, and never gave my love away to another, I am here with you now ….and always.”