RAVEN FOLKLORE

They slept until the black raven,

the blithe hearted

proclaimed the joy of heaven

- Beowulf

Native American

According to Jamie Sams and David Carson, in their excellent book Medicine Cards (which accompanies a beautiful deck of animal cards), Raven's medicine is magic. She is the Great Mystery of the Void.

Black, to Native Americans, is a color of magical power, and only to be feared if misused. Raven symbolizes the void - the mystery of that which is not yet formed. Ravens are symbolic of the Black Hole in Space, which draws in all energy toward itself and releases it in new forms. The iridescent blue and green that can be seen in the glossy black feathers of the raven represents the constant change of forms and shapes that emerge from the vast blackness of the void. In Native American tradition, Raven is the guardian of both ceremonial magic and healing circles. She is also the patron of smoke signals.

Raven's element is air, and she is a messenger spirit, which Native American shamans use to project their magic over great distances.

In many northwestern American Indian traditions, Raven is the Trickster, much like the Norse Loki. Observing ravens in nature, we find that they often steal food from under the noses of other animals, often working in pairs to distract the unfortunate beasts. Anne Cameron has written several northwestern Indian tales (Raven and Snipe, Raven Goes Berrypicking, Raven Returns the Water, and others) with the Raven as Trickster theme.

China

Ravens are considered a solar symbol in Chinese mythology. The three legged raven lives in the sun, representing the sun's three phases - rising, noon and setting. When the sunlight hits their glossy black feathers just right, they seem to turn to silver.

Japan

The Shinto Goddess, Amaterasu is sometimes represented as a giant raven, Yata-Garasu.

India

Brahma appears as a raven in one of his incarnations. Ravens are also sacred to Shiva and Kali.

Australia

In Aborigine mythology, Raven tried to steal fire from seven sisters (the Pleides), and was charred black in the unsuccessful attempt.

Middle East

To Egyptians, ravens represented destruction and malevolence. However, Arabs call raven Abu Aajir - the Father of Omens.

Hebrew/Christian

In the Hebrew/Christian tradition ravens were considered unclean, representing impurity, mortification, destruction, deceit, and desolation. Ravens were cursed by Noah for not returning to the ark with news of the receding the flood.

Yet, conversely, the Bible also says that ravens were the protectors of the prophets; they fed Elijah and Paul the Hermit in the wilderness. Also, ravens helped St. Cuthbert and St. Bernard.

In contradictory Christian traditions, ravens represent the solitude of the holy hermits, yet also the souls of wicked priests and witches.

European

Since ravens can be taught to speak, and have such a complex vocabulary of their own, they are connected symbolically to both wisdom and prophecy. But in Europe, at least from Christian times, ravens have several strikes against them: black is considered a negative color; ravens are carrion eaters; and they have a symbiotic relationship with man's oldest enemy, the wolf. In many western traditions raven represents darkness, destructiveness and evil. They are sometimes associated with deities of evil and of death. Both witches and the Devil were said to be able to take the shape of a raven.

Greece

Raven is the messenger of the Sun Gods, both Helios and Apollo. She is also associated with Athene, Hera, Cronos and Aesculapius.

Northern Europe

The pagan Danes and Vikings used the raven banner on their ships, in Odin's honor. These flags, usually sewn by the daughters of great warriors and kings, were tokens of luck on their voyages. Houses where ravens nested were also thought to be lucky.

Odin had two ravens - Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) who flew about the world, delivering messages, gathering knowledge and reporting back to him. One of Odin's many titles is Hrafna-Gud, the God of the Ravens. Odin's daughters, the warlike Valkyres, were sometimes said to take the shape of ravens.

In the Elder Edda's cryptic poem, the Grimnismal, a verse refers to Odin's ravens:

Huginn and Muninn, every day

They fly over earthground.

I fear for Huginn,

that he may not return.

But even more, I fear

for the loss of Muninn.

In the Norse shamanic tradition, Odin's ravens represent the powers of necromancy, clairvoyance and telepathy, and they were guides for the dead. This poem expresses a shaman's fear of his loss of magical powers. (Source: The Well of Remembrance by Ralph Metzner, Shambala, Boston, 1994)

Central Europe

On Walpurgisnacht, April 30th, German witches fly to Brocken Mountain in the Harz Mountains for the great witches' Sabbath in the shape of their familiars - ravens and crows.

Western Europe

In Beowulf, an Anglo Saxon poem, is written " . . . craving for carrion, the dark raven shall have its say, and tell the eagle how it fared at the feast, when, competing with the wolf, it laid bare the bones of corpses."

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth sees the raven as a herald of misfortune as it "croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan."

In England, tombstones are sometimes called "ravenstones".

Among the Irish Celts, Raven was associated with the Triple Goddess, the Morrigan, who took the shape of Raven over battlefields as Chooser of the Slain. She was a protector of warriors, such as Chuhulian and Fionn MacCual.

Raven is also the totem of the pan-Celtic Sorceress/Goddess Morgan le Fay, who was also called the Queen of Faeries. In some tales, she is Queen of the Dubh Sidhe, or Dark Faeries, who were a race of tricksters who often took the form of ravens.

Irish and Scots Bean Sidhes (Banshees) could take the shape of ravens as they cried above a roof, an omen of death in the household below.

Tha gliocas an ceann an fhitich or Fice ceann na fhitich are Scots Gaelic proverbs meaning "There is wisdom in a raven's head."

"To have a raven's knowledge" is an Irish proverb meaning to have a seer's supernatural powers. Raven is considered one of the oldest and wisest of animals.

Also a bird of wisdom and prophecy, Raven was the totem of the Welsh God, Bran the Blessed, the giant protector of the Britain, the Isle of the Mighty. After the battle with Ireland, Bran was decapitated, and his head became an oracle. Eventually Bran asked to have his head buried in what is now Tower Hill in London to protect Britain from invasion. Bran's Ravens are kept there to this day, as protection against invasion. During World War II, Tower Hill was bombed, and the ravens were lost. Winston Churchill, knowing full well the ancient legends, ordered the immediate replacement of ravens, and they were brought to Tower Hill from Celtic lands - the Welsh hills and Scottish Highlands.

Raven was the favorite bird of the solar deity, Lugh (Irish/Scots), or Lludd (Welsh) the Celtic God of Arts and Crafts. Lugh was said to have two ravens to attend on all the His needs (similar to Odin and his ravens).

Many Celtic tribes and clans descend from animals. An ancient clan called the Brannovices, the Raven Folk, once existed in Britain. To this day, the Glengarry MacDonalds of Scotland have a raven on their heraldic arms, and their war cry is Creagan-an Fhithich - Raven's Rock, a landmark on their ancestral lands.

The Scottish Goddess of winter, The Cailleach, sometimes appears as a raven. A touch from her brings death.

Giving a child his first drink from the skull of a raven will give the child powers of prophecy and wisdom in the Hebrides.

Scottish Highlanders associate ravens with the second sight. An excellent book on the subject is Ravens and Black Rain: The Story of Highland Second Sight by Elizabeth Sutherland (Corgi Books, Great Britain, 1985)

In Cornwall, as in England, King Arthur is said to live on in the form of a raven, and it is unlucky to shoot one.

"Have not your worships read the annals and histories of England, in which are recorded the famous deeds of King Arthur, whom we in our popular Castilian invariably call King Artus, with regard to whom it is an ancient tradition, and commonly received all over that kingdom of Great Britain, that this king did not die, but was changed by magic art into a raven, and that in process of time he is to return to reign and recover his kingdom and scepter; for which reason it cannot be proved that from that time to this any Englishman ever killed a raven?"

- Don Quixote by Cervantes

The Welsh Owein had a magical army of ravens.

In Welsh folklore, the raven is also an omen of death. If the raven makes a choking sound, it is a portent of the death rattle. A crying raven on a church steeple will "overlook" the next house where death will occur. A raven could smell death and would hover over the area where the next victim dwelt, including animals. Ravens were heard to "laugh" when someone was about to die. Welsh witches, and the Devil, would transform themselves into ravens.  

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Replies to This Discussion

Michelle Clarke 5:28in the evenin' Jan 24
Raven Medicine

TAGS : None

*Note: Raven and Crow are closely associated and should be studied in conjunction with one and other.

Raven:
*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.

Source:spiritlodge.yuku

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.

 

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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

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