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If men had wings and bore black feathers,

few of them would be clever enough to be crows.

— Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

The Raven is the shamanic messenger. Raven is chosen as the totem guide for a column promoting democracy in nature/wildlife policy decisions, because this mysterious black bird embodies magic, shape-shifting and creation. This new column, Madravenspeak, is part of a transformation to a world where animal societies live in freedom and dignity, peacefully co-existing with humans as involved stewards. Raven appears when insight, healing and expanded consciousness are needed. She is a trickster like Coyote, and is sometimes called the wolf bird for their symbiotic relationship. She guides us into the dark to bring forth the light. Most importantly, Raven can teach us to understand the language of animals. Although relentlessly persecuted by man, she represents the birth of empathy. Raven helps those who are worthy, but is full of mischief and tricks for the mean-spirited.

This column will access the ancient wisdom of power animals to generate respect for wild and domestic animals, tamed for human utility. We will explore, animal by animal, how we treat them, and generate ways to repair and honor the circle of life that sustains us. This is a tool to organize a peaceful and just world for wild native nature and her curious and playful, but frightened and besieged, wild life.

Wildlife appreciators should have rights as do all beings and Mother Earth herself, but they have been denied. Other beings have the right to exist as self-regulating individuals, contributing their special role in the integrity, balance and health of our ecosystem.

Ours will no longer be a human-dominated world, but a humbler partnership recognizing the common sense of extending a hand to paw and claw in friendship. We will make room for wild animals, not because we want to kill them, but because we want to know and protect them. We have caused great harm through intention and neglect. There is important work to be done.

Raven will empower us as magicians to recreate the world. We will journey through myth and legend, poetry and art, science and the political realm to widen our circle of compassion and moral concern. We will unite to free ourselves from the indoctrination of a death paradigm that is destroying our steams and lakes, prairies, wetlands, forests and rainforests, poisoning our air, water and food supplies, and endangering all life with climate chaos due to human choices. The process will debunk myths demonizing and marginalizing wild animals. They retain what we will never know -- the mysterious freedom and innocence of living in harmony with a natural world fast disappearing under the human boot.

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This is an ongoing invitation for you, the reader, to tell your stories of living amongst wild animals under attack. Write me at or click on “discussion” and leave your comments. We will share our experiences with bear hounding, trapping, captive hounding, trespass, eight months of various “seasons,” wearing orange by necessity, and the intimidation of guns and camouflage. We will empower ourselves to have a voice not only for wildlife but also for ourselves as wildlife appreciators. Those of us who walk, canoe and exist peacefully in this miraculous diverse place, hoping to catch a glimpse of a bobcat or fox or hear the call of a wolf, may then have opportunities to enrich our lives in healthy, humane relationships with fellow beings. But we will have to work for it. In Wisconsin, if you do not kill wildlife, you have never made a decision about wildlife’s fate.

Raven will examine the trove of shiny objects in the Department of Natural Resource’s agenda and bring them forth for public scrutiny.

This column will seek to democratize nature and state wildlife policies for the first time in the history of Wisconsin. Raven, you and I will co-create this project. Enrich it with your stories. The animal nations will tell us theirs. And so we begin.

Patricia Randolph of Portage is a longtime activist for wildlife. E-mail her at

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