Linking your favorite traveling artists across the globe
Michelle Clarke 5:28in the evenin' Jan 24
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*Note: Raven and Crow are closely associated and should be studied in conjunction with one and other.
*Ted Andrews/Animal-Speak: Keynote: Magic, Shapeshifting, and Creation
Cycle of Power: Winter Solstice
The raven is one of those birds that has a tremendious amount of lore and mythology surrounding it, and it is often contradictory. It is a bird of birth and death, and it is a bird of mysticism and magic.
In the near East, the raven was considered unclean--because it is a scavanger. It is one of the foods listed as forbidden in the Bible. The raven is one of the birds that Noah sent out after the floods, but it did not return to the ark. On the other hand, also in Biblical lore is the tale of how raven fed the prophet Elijah when hiding from King Ahab.
In Scandinavian lore, the raven played a significant role. The Norse god Odin had a pair of ravens who were his messengers. Their names were Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory). Odin was known to shapeshift as a raven himself. This reflects the idea of raven being a messenger of the great spiritual realm.
The raven has a long history of being an omen. During the Middle Ages the croak of the raven was believed to foretell a death or the outcome of a battle. It was even taught to the common folk in Christian communities that wicked priests became ravens when they died. Even today, some old timers tell how you can expect hot weather when a raven is seen facing a clouded sun.
The raven is a member of the corvids family, to which belong crows and magpies and other such birds. In truth, the only really significant difference between the crow and the raven is in size, the raven being much larger. It would be beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as a totem. Much of the same information that applies to one, also applies to the other. It is simply a matter of degree. Rather than repeat that information here, I would like to give you some information not generally associated wtih the crow itself.
The raven has a wealth of myth and lore surrounding it. In many ways it is comparable to the coyote tales of the plains Indians, the Bushmen tales of the mantis and other societies in which an anmial plays both a significant and yet confusing role. The coyote was both trickster and wise being--fool and wise one. This was true of the mantis in the tales of the Kalahari Bushment.
In the Pacific Northwest, the raven has this same aura about him. In the Pacivic Northwest, raven brought forth life an dorder. Raven stole the sunlight from one who would keep the world in darkness. Nothing could exist without raven. Raven is honored in art and on totem poles, reflecting the tales and mysticism that have developed around it.
With raven, human and animal spirits intermingle and become as one. This is reflected in its deep, rich shiny black. In blackness, everything mingles until drawn forth, out into the light. Because of this, raven can help you shapeshift your life or your being. Raen has the knowledge of how to become other animals and how to speak their languages.
Ravens are great at vocalizations, and they can be taught to speak. They incorporate and mimic the calls of other species. In the Northwest are tales of the Kwakiutl Indians who offered the afterbirth of male newborns to Raven so that when they grew up, they would understand their cries. Raven can teach you to understand the language of animals.
Ravens are playful, and they are excellent tool useres. They will use stones and anything else that is available to help them crack nuts and such. They are birds not intimidated by others, and they are very fast and wary. Because of this, they are not easy prey for other animals or birds. This implies the ability to teach you how to stir the magic of life without fear. They are also known for their amorous behavior, reflecting the strong creative life force to which they have access.
This creative life force can be used to work the magic of spiritual laws upon the physical plane. It can be used to go into the void and stir the energies to manifest that which you most need. All this and more is what raven teaches. If raven has come into your life, expect magic. Somewhere in your life, magic is at play. Raven activates the energy of magic, linking it with your will and intention.
Raven speaks of the opportunity to become the magician and/or enchantress of your life. Each of us has a magician within, and it is Raven which can show us how to bring that part of us out of the darkness and into the light. Raven speaks of messages from the spirit realm that can shapeshift your life dramatically. Raven teaches how to take that which is unformed and give it the form you desire.
The winter solstice and winter season is the time of greatest power for those with the raven as a totem. The solstice is the shortest day of the year. The usn shines the least on this day, thus it is the darkest. From that day forth, the light shines a little more each day. This is symbolic of the influence of raven. It teaches how to go into the dark and bring forth the light. With each trip in, we develop the ability to bring more light out. This is creation.
*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams:
Raven symbolizes watchfulness for and recognition of spiritual falsehoods.
*Bobby Lake-Thom/Spirits of the Earth:
The Raven and the Crow are always good signs, but they have distinct, often multiple messages and meanings. Both birds are good luck signs of protection and messengers of wealth. If you see a Raven or a Crow eating or flying with food in its mouth, then it means you are going to get a gift or some money. The power symbols of the Raven and the Crow can be used to counteract or checkmate bad signs and omens, or to fight against bad signs or spirits, such as the Owl. I always watch out for bird signs while traveling. If I see a Hawk, I know she is warning me of danger, so I prepare for the danger and thank the Hawk. But afterward, if I see a Raven or a Crow, I know the road or my path is clear; the danger has gone away.
We have a ceremony in our tribes in northwestern California, where w use the symbol, power, and prayers of the Crow to make warrior medicine and protection. (This special kind of dance, prayer, and ceremony is kept secret.) My father-in-law had the ceremony performed on him when he went into WWII. He was part of the 101st Airborne's Screaming Eagles, druing the Normandy invasion. He lived, while others around him were either wounded or killed. I know of Indian friends and relations who used the same medicine, power, and ceremony before going to Vietnam. They came back unharmed. That is how powerful this knowledge and the use of certain birds as spirit allies can be.
In my previous book *Native Healer*, I talk about the sing of the Raven appearing each time I died and came back to life. The Raven is one of the very few natural powers and supernatural aids that can go over into the land of the deceased, into the spirit world, and bring a person's soul back to the physical world, hence bringing that person out of a coma or back to life. (This kind of knowledge is a high shamanistic form of philosophy and symbolism and requires specialized training in mythology and estoterics.)
The Raven and the Crow are also used for hunting medicine and power. We make prayers and recite an ancient prayer about the Raven or the Crow prior to going on a hunt, and the bird will always lead us to game such as a Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain Goat, whatever. We also always promise to leave some of the food in return for his services!
*Patricia Telesco/The Language of Dreams: Raven:
Scandinavian: A spiritual messenger. Heed well this bird's call, and look to the rest of the dream for more meaning. During the Middle Ages, hearing the call of a raven durin gbattle portended defeat or death. Are you fighting a lost cause? Your ability to vocalize ideas and opinions. Note Edgar Allen Poe's use of the raven's call, highlighting this trait. Creativity, especially in regards to using what's available to you. A raven will pick up and employ anything it can as a tool for nest building.