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Raven as a Totem

Totems are a difficult concept to explain, but you need an understanding of what a totem is before you can understand what it means to follow Raven.

A totem is a spiritual creature, but it is not a god. You do not worship a totem, you follow it. A totem embodies a certain way of life - a representation of a set of ideals. The ideals are usually personified in the form of an animal, but can also be as abstract as the chinook wind, or grandfather thunder.

 

"You do not choose your totem. Your totem chooses you"

That is one of the most common phrases I've heard or read about totems. It reflects one of the basic principles of totems - You don't control them, and you can't explain them... but something deep inside you responds to the totem's call. When you follow the way of a totem, it just "feels right".

That isn't to say a totem's way is that of least resistance. Following a totem often puts certain demands or restrictions on you, and it isn't always easy. The Way of a totem is something you aspire to - rather like someone who aspires to live according to a code of honor.

The ideal which a totem calls you to pursue is reflected in the totem's nature. A hawk totem teaches watchfulness, patience, and alertness. A rat totem shows resourcefulness, ingenuity, and survival. Followers of Wolf learn honor, courage, and self-sufficency, as well as the importance of working within a pack. Rabbit shows its followers to listen to everything, watch carefully, and to never underestimate the little things. Raven... well, Raven teaches his children many things.

Raven is a very special totem. They're all special, of course, but Raven holds a unique place in many native myths. Raven is a creator - he is mankind's protector and sometimes saviour. He brought light and fire to the early people so they would not die. He gave them salmon so they wouldn't starve. In some stories, he even brough water to break a terrible drought. He is a cultural hero.

He is also a Trickster. Raven steals from man, and from other spirits. He plays jokes on us, and he laughs at mankind's expense. Sometimes his tricks go awry and he ends up the butt of his own joke, but even then, there is humor.

Raven is a juxtaposition of opposites: A provider and a thief. A hero and a fool. He brought light out of darkness, but he is himself cloaked in midnight black. He is a symbol of dark brooding sadness, and of death, yet he brings life, and unrivalled joy. He is credited with creating the earth and all its mysteries, but even the smallest secret attracts his attention. He is a silent spy, and an unstoppable chatterbox. He is many things.... And sometimes he is nothing.

That is Raven.

Raven's children must understand the value of humor. They need to see the joy which pervades all living things, and bring that joy to others. They also need to develop their sense of curiosity. So many fascinating things happen around us all the time - and raven's children want to know about all of them. They also want to bring things into the light. Some people might not want to see what Raven's brood expose to the bright light of day, though... since many people have secrets which they'd prefer to keep hidden. Those who follow Raven aren't always appreciated for what they do, but they still share a certain satisfaction at a job well done when they make someone stop and reevaluate themselves or the world around them.

Does Raven call to you?  http://www.shades-of-night.com/corax/totem.html

 

 

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Raven and Raven People

Raven, and His Corvid relatives, are among some of the most magickal spirits, and corvidae in general are some of the more ominous birds of many cultures. Few mythologies, and folk traditions, around the world do not contain them in some way. From Bran, to Woden, to Apollo, many myths illustrate deities using corvidae as messengers, or receiving information, messages, and omens from them.



The Ravens of the Tower of London are associated with the myth of Bran, and like his head, may protect England, and also offer portents to those that can read them. It is a staple of British tradition that the Ravens of the Tower are the descendents of Bran's ravens. Whetherthis is true or not, the Ravens of the Tower of London are not only afforded the life of nobility, they actually hold rank in the Yeomancy.



Woden's raven messengers are Huginn and Munnin, Thought and Memory,or variously Forethought, and Remembrance, and may also be seen as kennings of the two arts of Rune Lore, the physical Runes themselves for which Woden suffered on the Tree to obtain, and the sung spellwork relating to them known as Galdr, or Crowing. Interestingly most corvidae work in pairs to scout for their people, and one observes while the other crows information to all who can hear.



Apollo's raven messenger, and spy, Corvus, was once white, but the myth tells of how He brought the ill tidings of Coronis' infidelity,and was later cursed by Apollo in a fit of despair over the tragic love triangle. This is one example of many myths that describe how ravens, and sometimes crows, became black, but this one in particular, like many Greek myths, has associations with astrology,human nature, and perhaps even occulted magickal instruction.



Raven finds importance among many cultures, particularly Native American tribes, and in some cases is attributed variously the position of Creator, Trickster, the giver of occult knowledge, and omen bearer. Some of the more expansive Native American myths recorded by ethnographers in the earlier days of the western conquest were Raven myths. Among the Hiada, the Children of Eagle and Raven, Raven is attributed as having brought them to life in the sun from the confines of a huge mussel shell as helpless pink worms, and teaching them everything they know.



Among the Apsaroké, the Children of Big Beaked Bird, or the Crow Tribe in modern parlance, Raven is a powerful Trickster along with Coyote, and attributed to play tricks on the People to teach them wisdom. Most modern variations of Crow Tribal Raven, and Coyote, Myths have been censored by missionaries, as the Crow Tribe was, and is still, notorious for lewd, and bawdy, tales told during winter nights to entertain the people until they fall asleep. If you can lay your hands on the uncensored myths they are some of the best adult entertainment you could hope for, but they also retain the truest meaning of the myths.



One of my all time favorite Raven myths has many variations, but is considered to be Inuit in origin, and like many Inuit myths is extremely mystical in nature, and also like the Crow Tribal Myths has been censored for it too includes deeply sexual imagery. This myth is usually called the Story of Raven and Whale, or Raven and Whale Woman, and tells the story of how Raven found Himself in the belly of a whale, and how He got out. Sometimes it is told in a shorter version that might be called the Story of Raven and the Fire Sticks, which as one might suspect is how He got out, but again the censoring has masked the sexual nature of Fire Sticks, and diminished the intended meaning of the myth. The story is an allegory for a mystical experience of discovering the self hidden inside, and this theme is one reason many Inuit, Tlingit, and other Northwestern tribes, depict spirits, and deities, as having nested faces. Northwestern tribal art, ceremonial masks, and totem objects, are among some of the most beautiful in the world, and many include this image inside and image theme.


Kah'-kah-loo: the Ravens
Me'-wuk: the People

HOW KAH'-KAH-LOO THE RAVENS BECAME PEOPLE:



WHEN water covered the world only the top of the highest mountain rose above it. The people had climbed up on this mountain, but could find no food and were starving. They wanted to go off and get something to eat. When the water went down all the ground was soft mud. After a while the people rolled rocks down to see if the mud were hard enough to hold them. When the rocks stayed on top, the people went down to search for food.


But the mud was not hard enough to hold them and they sank out of sight, leaving deep holes where they had gone down. Then Kah'-kah-loo the Ravens came and stood at the holes, one at each hole where a man had gone down. After a while, when the ground hardened, the Ravens turned into people. That is the reason the Mewuk are so dark.


The myth is short but beautiful. It's about death and rebirth; how we are all connected to nature. If people really look within themselves their is a birth/creation story that needs to be told


Naturalistically speaking corvidae are among the smartest birds, and have been observed not only using tools, once the measure of humanlike intelligence, but using tools to make other tools, the measure used now. Ravens have been observed to have a grasp of the conservation of volume, another marker of cognitive sophistication,while dropping rocks in milk jugs in order to reach the prize inside the bottle. Another surprising observation leads researchers to suspect that Ravens, and Crows, understand the danger firearms represent to them, and can actually tell the difference in types of guns carried by hunters and farmers. In more than one case Crows have been observed to stay between a farmer and his crops when he is carrying a shotgun, and the farmer and his house when he is carrying a long gun.



Raven FACTS
Some Native American zodiacs are based on animals that help guide and teach the younger generations. People born between September 23 and October 23 are considered Raven people.

"Raven people are fair, energetic, diplomatic, charming and ingenious. They tend to be indecisive because they want everyone to be happy."



Located in IL, Raven's Grin Inn is allegedly haunted by 37 ghosts. During the 16 years that owner Jim Warfield has lived in this home both he and his visitors have witnessed unsettling supernatural events.



Okayama Castle in Japan, built in the 16th century, is also called Ujo, which means Raven Castle.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote the poem "The Raven," first published in 1845.



The Baltimore-Washington Beer Works Brewery produces the product named "The Raven." Production was first in Germany, but after a year operating in the competitive beer market of Europe, production of The Raven began in Baltimore in June of 1998


The calls of corvids, Ravens and Crows, are not presently well understood, and as I understand it there are grants waiting for
people willing to study them. Among linguists it is thought that roughly 200 words are required for minimum fluency in any language.
Crows and Ravens are demonstrating that they use at least this many types of calls.



RAVEN MEDICINE

Ravens are Heyokas, tricksters, in Native American mythology they taught the people both the right way to live through example of what not to do as well as bringing many blessings. When I was a child I was told _ when you see a Raven say - None of your tricks today brother/sister Raven! Only fruit_. What was meant by this was asking Raven to bring abundance and blessings rather than turning your reality on its head and having to learn things the hard way. Seeing a Raven carrying food in it's mouth was considered to be a good omen in my family as it meant that Spirit was sending the message that all would be provided for. Even today when I see the Crows with food in their mouths I have found this also applies to them.



It was Raven who stole the sun from a monster who wanted to keep the world in darkness. Thus Raven people have a duty to confront their own monsters and demons in order to bring greater light into themselves. Once they are well on that path, they find themselves being asked to turn time and again to those who are in need of their assistance and have in fact at some level called out to Raven for support and protection. Those who carry Raven medicine often feel that their lives are not their own but belong to a greater cause or higher plan, and though they may not understand fully where they are being led, they know they have a special destiny to fulfill. Sometimes this destiny fills them with a sense of loneliness, even sadness, for like those with Wolf as a totem, these people know they walk alone. It is not that Raven keeps us from those of like mind, nor does it mean they do not have family or friends, rather it is from a sense of knowing that one is to be a rebel, a trickster, the joker in the deck, to go forth and do that which others would call crazy or foolish so that the earth and all who inhabit her can continue to expand and evolve. And to do that no matter the consequences.



Raven is also about shapeshifting and mysticism. A shapeshifter is one that knows that this Earth walk is an illusion and that one, if one believes it, can travel through space and time in the blink of an eye to appear in any form that is appropriate to bring help and healing to another. Many who carry Raven medicine often appear younger than their years, another ability of shapeshifting. Raven medicine is both very Neptunian in that it feels very intensely what others are truly thinking and feeling, and Plutonian as it sees that which most would prefer to ignore. Both are crucial for learning how to shapeshift either the self or reality, for shapeshifting is the awareness of other levels of reality besides this one. For if a person refuses to see what is how can he or she change anything? Raven teaches us how to look at what we are experiencing in a whole new way and thus adapt to what is while working towards a more positive future. Ravens are clairvoyant, they carry messages from Spirit to those who are willing to hear and follow through on what they are shown. That is why so many Raven people feel isolated and alone, they know at any moment Spirit may call upon them to leave everything behind in order to work for the good of the whole. This is why when a Raven person makes a friend, they are loyal for life as they understand the true value of friendship and want to honour and enjoy every moment they have with those they love.



Those who carry Raven medicine often have powerful, life altering visions at key points in their lives. Ravens are said to be fond of crossroads as that is where their energy can be utilized by those who are seeking a new direction for their lives. When facing a new path it is often wise to call upon Raven medicine to show you if that is the true and correct path for you or not. This is not to say that the right path will always be easy, for Ravens in their role of guardian and protector of all they survey are often called upon to help set something right or bring it back into balance. Ravens also teach us how to journey into the void where all possibility lives. If you look into the eye of a Raven it is the gateway between this world and the next, the place where all of our hopes and dreams live. Raven knows how to carry us there and shows us the proper path to return so that we may manifest that which we have found in the void. Moving into the void and returning to one's reality also brings more awareness of how to deal with the shadows in one's and others lives. Raven people are powerful navigators of the darkness, for their intuitive sense is so strong that they learn to rely on it rather than what is just before their physical eyes. Ravens are very alert. They are constantly on patrol, watching over their territory lest Owl move in and hunt them in the night time. Thus Raven medicine can also teach us, like Crow, how to defend and protect that which we value and cherish. We can call upon Raven medicine to insure that no predators make a tasty meal out of something we have worked hard to create. When there is an intuitive sense that something is not quite right it is important for those who carry this medicine be especially aware and alert when they get the proverbial red flag. Even thought the Raven person may not understand why they are picking up what they do, nine times out of ten they are spot on and so need to honour their insights intuitive awareness.



Raven says _ I watched Spirit create the entire Universe out of the void, it's very being. Thus was I taught by Spirit how to create magic. Raven people learn early on that what they focus on becomes their intent for their life experiences. Raven knows that Spirit created everything by setting an intention to do so and then spoke the word that it was done. Spirit taught Raven how to speak many languages so that Raven could teach humans how to both create magic and understand the different levels of reality and beings that inhabit them as well as understanding each other and all other beings who share our home. In magic, intention is everything, in creating or shapeshifting reality intention is everything. Then one must only speak the words "it is done" for it to be brought forth out of the void. What is desired is simply awaiting our awareness of it.



There is something very mystical and otherworldly about Ravens and the people that carry their medicine that makes them both hard to define. They are fluid like Neptune yet all penetrating like Pluto and in fact many Raven people I have known have had both planets prominent in their charts.

In closing, there is a story about Raven that comes from the native peoples of British Columbia, Canada. It is said that Raven was flying along a beach and saw a Clam shell. Never having seen one before Raven became quite curious and wondered what was inside. Raven tried to break it open with his beak to no avail. Finally he carried it high aloft into the sky and dropped it onto a rock. The Clam shell broke open and humans emerged from it, representing all of the different races that we know today. Raven was so shocked, never having seen humans before, that before he knew what was happening, all the people had run away to where they are now. And I think that is why Raven was given such a heavy duty by Spirit, to watch over those that he set free. Perhaps this also helps to explain why Crows and Ravens are found the world over. They must tend to that which they helped bring into being. There is a good message here for us too, to be careful of what we create and bring into our lives as we are given responsibility over it by Spirit. It may appear to leave our lives at different times, yet it is still our creation and we must feed and nurture it as we can in order to fulfill our own individual destinies.

 

Here's a bit more about the Tower of London for reference sake. It also includes the Raven lore.

Haunts of the Tower of London
Ghostly Sights and Legend Connected to London’s Historical Structure

May 1, 2007 Jill Stefko
Phantoms of humans and a spectral bear have been sighted by sentries guarding the Tower and others. Ravens of legend live at the Tower to keep England safe from disaster.

The building of the Tower began during the reign of William the Conqueror, 1066 to 1087. It was built to control and protect London and was erected within ancient Roman walls. In the 1200s, additions were built beyond the walls. The White or Great Tower is the only Norman building still standing.

In addition to the Tower being a fortress, it has been a palace, prison, execution chamber and home of the Royal Menagerie, Royal Mint, Royal Observatory and Public records. It has been an arsenal for armor and weapons and has been and still is where the crown jewels are kept safe.
Who and What are the Ghosts in the Tower of London?

* The first ghost seen in the Tower was Thomas a Becket in the thirteenth century. He was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral when he was the archbishop, but had been a constable of the Tower.
* King Henry VIII was responsible for having two of his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, and the Countess of Salisbury and Lady Jane Grey beheaded. Their ghosts have been seen. Boleyn’s spectre is the one most often seen. The ghost of Henry VIII has been sighted floating by a sentry.
* Sir Walter Raleigh who was executed by the orders of King James I has been spotted as have the Lord of Northumberland and his brother.
* The ghosts of King Edward V and brother, Prince Richard who were children when their uncle had them murdered them so he could take the throne as King Richard III, haunt the tower.
* When E. L. Smith was a Keeper of the Crown Jewels, he wrote an account of a weird thing he and his wife saw in the Martin Tower. It was a cylinder that resembled a glass tube filled with white and blue fluid moving about in the room.
* A few days after this incident, it was said a sentry died of fear after seeing a ghost bear in the room where the crown jewels were kept. Others have reported sighting the bear. How does anyone know the sentry saw a bear? Did he tell people before he died?

The accounts of ghostly sightings are numerous. Something is happening in the Tower of London by many accounts. Paranormal phenomena or figments of imaginations?
Tower of London's Legend of the Ravens

Ravens live in the Tower and roam on the grounds. Their legend began during the reign of Charles II in the seventeenth century. One version states that when there are no more ravens in the Tower the White Tower and England will both be destroyed. It has also been said that if anyone harms a raven, she or he will be subject to bad fortune and, possibly death. In some cultures, these birds are death omens as they were for one European royal family.

Hardey and the Raven Master, Derrick Coyle at the Tower of London
http://www.historic-uk.com/DestinationsUK/TowerRavens.htm

 

Animals and Witchcraft
(The Witches Familiar)
The Raven
Written and compiled by George Knowles


The common Raven (Corvus corax) is a member of the Corvidae family, which includes Jays, Crows and Magpies. Raven can be found throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere, the high Arctic islands of Canada, Europe and even in the deserts of North Africa. A passerine (perching) bird, it is the largest blackbird in the world and can grow to a length of more than 60cm (24in).

The Raven has a long powerful bill that is slightly hooked, shaggy throat feathers and a long strongly graduated wedge-shape tail. Its body has a mostly black iridescent plumage and its eyes are dark brown. Ravens survive in many types of habitat and normally live for up to 10 or 15 years in the wild, but in capivity its lifespans has been greatly increased. Those in the Tower of London have been recorded living up to 40 years.

The raucous call of the Raven is a deep and grating kraa-kraa-kraa sound, but it can also produce an amazing assortment of other calls, studies have shown that he has more than 30 distinct vocalizations. Ravens have a wingspan of more than 1.3 m (4 feet) and are excellent flyers; they sometimes soar to great heights and love to engage in aerial acrobatics. Ravens do not migrate like many other birds, but a breeding pair will usually relocate each year.

Ravens start to breed at 3 or 4 years of age and then mate for life. Courtship rituals begin in mid-January with aerial acrobatics, demonstrations of intelligence, and the ability to provide food being key acts of courting critera. By mid-March mating pairs start roosting near their intended nesting locations but must then gain a territory of their own before they begin nest building and breeding. Their nests are made from coarse sticks lined with hair or shredded bark, and are built in high trees or on tall cliff ledges from where they aggressively defend their territory and food resources.

The female lays from four to eight light blue spotted eggs in a clutch, and once laid will stay in the nest to incubate them while being fed by the male. After about three weeks the chicks hatch and are fed by both parents who regurgitate food and water stored in a throat pouch. The chicks grow quickly and leave the nest about four weeks after hatching. Once the young Ravens leave the nest they form loose flocks during the day and then congregate to roost at night, as many as 500 have been seen to roost in one location.

Raven is omnivorous and consumes a wide variety of food, including: seeds, berries, fruit, insects, small birds, mammals and carrion. They are notorious scavengers and are common visitors to garbage dumps. They store surplus food items and learn to hide such food out of the sight of other Ravens. They also raid the food caches of other birds and animals. In the wild the Raven is a common associate of the Grey Wolf, who he follows to scavenge off the carcasses of its prey, particularly in winter.

Because the Raven is intelligent, sociable and highly adaptable, it has long been the subject of legend and folklore. Sadly the Raven has a near universal affiliation with dark prophecy and is often associated with death, although its cleverness and fearless habits have also won a degree of admiration, as can been seen portrayed in mythology.



Raven in Mythology

In many cultures Raven is considered a bird of ill omen associated with death. As a common carrion eater known to feed on humans killed in warfare or by execution, he became associated with the dead and with lost souls. In Sweden, Ravens are thought to be the ghosts of murdered people, and in Germany, the souls of the damned. Not all cultures feel this way however, for many Native American tribes in North American see the Raven as a creator Spirit who brought the world into being, to them he is Deity, the First Human and the original Shaman. In other cultures because of his intelligence and cunning he is thought of as a trickster, or associated with Deity as a signatory animal.

In a creation myth from the people on the West Coast of North America, they tell how in the beginning there was nothing, only water, darkness and a Raven. The Raven flew through the darkness with a bag hung around his neck, but soon began to tire. As he flew over the water he released a small rock from his bag and dropped it into the water creating an island. Raven sat down on the island to rest, and while resting took other rocks from his bag and threw them into the water creating land.

Rested, the Raven picked up his bag and flew on. After a while he became tired again and stopped to rest on a piece of the land he had created, there took more items from his bag. First he removed a fir tree, then a pine tree, a spruce, a redwood and all the other trees in the world. He also removed bushes, grass, wheat and all the other plants of the world, including the plants of the sea. All these things he scattered across the land and the water so they could grow.

Again the Raven took his bag around his neck and flew through the darkness. When he became tired again he sat down on another rock to rest. This time he removed a Wolf, an Eagle, a Salmon, a Bear and a Deer, and all the other animals of the land and sea. When Raven looked around him and surveyed at all he had created, it looked to be a good world, where everything was peaceful, happily working together in nature. But before he flew off again he looked into his bag and saw there was one thing left “Man”. So Raven removed man from the bag and placed him upon the earth, and then when the world began to change.

The Raven is also the principal creator figure of the Alaskan Inuit peoples who call him Raven Father. At the beginning of the world he is said to have come down from the sky and created dry land. He then created a man and then a woman as his companions, followed by numerous types of animals, trees and plants. Raven Father then taught man and woman skills, such as how to raise children, make fire and care for the animals.





Another myth from the Tsimshian tribe in the American Northwest tells the story of how a Raven stole the three heavenly bodies (the Stars, the Moon and the Sun) from a miserly old Chief, and replaced them in the sky providing light around the world. According to the legend a mean old Chief once hoarded the three light sources in the world creating perpetual night. The light he kept closed up in three dark bags, which were only opened for his pleasure. However, a Raven got bored of flying around in the dark and decided to bring back the light. To do this he turned himself into a leaf and fluttered down on a gust of wind into the Chief's tepee.

The Chief's daughter was sipping a drink in the tepee, when a leaf entered and landed in her cup as she was drinking. After swallowing the leaf, the daughter fell pregnant and gave birth to a baby with raven-black hair and dark glowing eyes, naturally they called the new arrival “Ravens Child”. The child however was very temperamental and whenever he was bored or wanted something, he shrieked, and shrieked and cried.

The Chief while a doting Grandfather, hated all the noise the child made and ordered, “Give the child what ever he wants”. So they gave the child the dark bag containing “the Light of twinkling Stars” to play with. The child was very happy as he played with the Stars, bouncing them off the sides of the tepee. So enthusiastically did he bounce them, that one day they bounced right up through the smoke hole in the ceiling and scattered around the dark of night providing a little Light, much to the displeasure of the Chief.

Having lost the Stars, Ravens Child soon became bored again and as was his way, he shrieked, and shrieked and cried, all the while driving the Chief crazy with the noise. The Chief relented and ordered, “Give the child what ever he wants”. So they give the child the dark bag containing “the Light of the Moon” to play with. The child was very happy as he played with the Moon, bouncing it of the sides of the tepee. So enthusiastically did he bounce it, that one day it bounced right up through the smoke hole in the ceiling and joined the Stars in the dark of night providing a little more Light, much to the displeasure of the Chief.

Deprived of yet another toy, Ravens Child threw a major tantrum, and shrieked, and shrieked and cried. So disruptive was the noise he made, it was causing the Chief to tear out his hair, as a result the Chief ordered, “Give the child what ever he wants”. The tepee staff were weary of the child by now, and fearful of the Chiefs wrath should anything happen to the third dark bag, so they tried to find something else to keep the child quiet and restore peace, but none of the usual baby toys would satisfy Ravens Child who kept pointing to the last dark bag. Finally they give it to him, but with dire warnings not to lose it, for it contained the Chiefs most prized possession “The Light of the Sun”.

Instead of playing with it as he had done with the other dark bags, the child suddenly turned back into a Raven and flew up through the smoke hole in the ceiling carrying the bag in his beak and stealing the Chiefs “Light of the Sun”. Untying the bag Raven spread light throughout the world bring to an end the perpetual night and creating day. The chief was very angry and his recorded comments contain very strong language in the Tsimshian dialect.

In Scandinavian mythology Odin was the King of the Gods. He had two black Ravens, one called Huginn (“Thought”) the other called Muninn (“Memory”), these he sent out daily to gather information from all around the world. Odin also kept a pair of Wolves, one called Geri (Greedy) the other called Freki (Fierce). Wolves and Ravens have an old and close relationship in the wild, where both lived and survived together. A great deal of a Raven’s food came from scavenging carcasses left by Wolves, particularly in winter. As the God of War, both Wolves and Ravens would have been a common sight on Odin’s battlefields, scavenging on the bodies of the slain.

In some cultures the Raven was originally white, like in the in the Greek tale of Coronis the daughter of Phlegyes, who was pregnant of Apollo. Apollo left a white Raven to watch over her, but just before the birth of his child, Coronis married Ischys. The Raven reported this fact to Apollo, which made him furious. In anger at being betrayed, he killed Coronis and Ischys, and turned the Raven black for being the bearer of bad news. During Coronis’ funeral, Apollo retrieved the unborn child who later became Aesclepius, the father of medicine.

In the legends of England, Ravens figure largely in the history of the Tower of London. During the reign of Charles II (1660–85), his astronomer John Flamsteed complained that the raucous noise made by the Ravens was putting him off his work, so the King ordered they should be destroyed. However the Raven was known as a bird of prophecy, so the King was warned that dire bad luck would follow should he destroy the Ravens. Instead, not wishing to tempt fate, the King ordered that the Ravens should be fed and sheltered forever. Since then the legend spread that should the Ravens ever leave the Tower, the reigning Monarchy and the Tower itself would fall, like wise the British Empire. Today at the Tower of London, the Ravens wings are clipped to stop them flying away, and are cared for by a Yeoman Warder with the official title of Raven Master.

In Celtic mythology the Ravens association with death is linked to the Goddess of Fate and is the totem bird for Morrigan in her three aspects of Macha, Badh and Nemain (Morrigan is the collective name for the three Goddesses).


Raven Totem Spirit and Medicine:

Contributed by - Patricia Jean Martin


If Raven has called on you, you may soon find the following show up in your life: Magick and mysticism, intellect and acute cunning, awareness and skilful perception, the ability to shapeshift into another for a more complete understanding of Spirit, and a journey into the depths in order to bring out the light. In all this, and more, Raven will be your guide.

The raven is part of the Corvids family (genus, Corvus), which also includes the crow, magpie, blue jay and others - crow being its closest relative. The main difference between a raven and a crow is size, whereas the raven is much larger and has a shaggier tuft of feathers in the neck area. Two other physical differences are the shape of their tail feathers and the length and appearance of their primary wing feathers - whereas a raven's tail feathers are wedge-shaped in flight, a crow's are more rounded...and where the longest feathers of the wing on the raven will have spaces between them when in flight, a crow's will not and will appear more compact. These slight physical differences aside, Raven and Crow bring much the same message, so those with Raven as their Totem would do well to also study Crow, and vice versa. But even through their many similarities, there are some differences.

Where Crow brings word of the magick that surrounds you both within and without, it is Raven who dangles the key. Ravens are known to be able to trigger the energies of the magick you feel all around you, and they will teach you how to fearlessly go about manifesting that magick to fruition. They do this through activating the link between intention and wilful action. Long associated with birth and death, Raven spirit knows best how to help you explore the deeper mysteries. Just as their colour (black) reflects that there are worlds of colourful light within, they are known to delve effortlessly into the darkness for the sole purpose of bringing out the light; this too aiding you in the realization and execution of your magick.

If Raven has come into your life, you can also expect that your imagination will be sparked, and you can definitely expect many changes to begin to take shape within your life. Raven is all about creation...and sometimes in order to create, we must first relinquish old habits. With Raven medicine you will be courageously led into the recesses of your inner self and be given not only the knowledge of what needs be done, but the wisdom and wherewithal to make those necessary changes. And although at times these journeys may be scary to undertake, they can be the most healing. Change is part of the natural Wheel of Life, and this is all part of Raven's reputation of being an omen that foretells of death. He or she is there to help you foretell and render what must be destroyed in order to birth something new. This is an important element of the mysticism of Raven's own magick.

Ravens are excellent shapeshifters - always willing to embark on journeys into the void, and very capable of delivering the messages brought back. The Norse god, Odin, possessed two ravens named Hugin (thought) and Munin (memory) that were his personal messengers. Odin himself would often shapeshift into a raven. So those with Raven Totem will find that it is not only Raven who will act as shapeshifter and messenger, but in return they will actually encourage and welcome you to enter their world. Like no other animal, Raven allows their own spirit to become one with the human spirit, thus allowing the messages they bring forth to be quick and clear. They also know how to intermingle and interrelate with other animal spirits, so those with Raven Totem may also find notably increased interaction with others, bringing about the advantageous ability to put one's self in another's shoes and seeing into their hearts. With this useful skill comes understanding, the increased desire to cooperate and work together, along with the ability to manipulate.

Where a crow is more likely to be seen physically living near people...ravens are hardly ever seen, preferring to live in densely wooded areas. Ravens are territorial and prefer lots of space, even amidst their brethren. People with Raven Totem will find not only the desire but the need to both physically commune with the forests and internally commune with the dense underbrush of one's own inner being. Ravens will teach you to be swift in deed but wary enough in your actions in order to proceed with safety. In the same breath, though, they also teach you how not to be intimidated. Ravens - just as their Crow brothers and sisters are known to do - will actually mob a hawk in order to chase them from their territory. This is a fine lesson in taking back your personal power.

Noted as being the most intelligent of all the birds, Ravens are excellent tool users. In one study and documentary, they are shown manipulating various ingenious tools and methods to maneuver and gain access into a feeder, using the uncanny ability to plan and think ahead. They are known to possess excellent puzzle-solving ability, good memory capacity and spatial perception, and even mental projection and visualization skills. Metaphysically, they are widely known to be able to see into both the past and the future. With Raven medicine, your own intellect will be acutely sharpened and your intuitions honed - your levels of awareness and perception greatly increased. You may find yourself embarking on new intellectual pursuits, and a new sense of cunning will make what once were looked at as difficult problems disappear. Your ingenuity will increase, and along with it, your self-esteem. After you begin experiencing these new or heightened aspects of yourself, Raven may then ask you to go on a mission quest, but you never need worry about it, as you will be given all the tools that you need in order to accomplish the task.

Ravens like to talk. Those with Raven medicine will find themselves becoming more vocal and/or gaining the ability to reach out to others through some form of communication - many times through the art of writing, painting, acting, dancing or performing. Just as the raven possesses a wide range of vocal tones and notes - actually having the ability to talk and mimic, and possessing a high command of language - your own communication skills will be enhanced. As noted in the text on Wolf, Raven is prone to be vocally helpful in alerting others to danger. In this way, you will find yourself also becoming very watchful and alert, and you will think it very natural to defend your family - be it blood or kinship. You will find it comes easy to bring them messages, whether in the form of warnings or fresh insights.

Ravens are playful and extremely amorous, and those harkening to Raven's call may also find these traits surfacing within themselves. A bit raucous and hardly ever fearful, Raven will teach you how to find humor in the most unexpected places, as self-assuredness through cunning and being 'in the know' relinquishes inhibitions. They will also teach you how to bring your own playful and amorous nature into the light...for bringing the creative life force to the forefront into the light is what Raven is all about.

In all these things and many others, Raven is a great teacher and guide.

 

Something to share with you all. As you will see though they are all part of the same family: Corvus. Also you might want to chew on this: In mythology Crow was born from a falling star that landed in a volcano, Raven was here when the world was created. Both fly in from the west bearing death however Crow heralds war, where as Raven does not.

The difference between a Rook a Crow and a Raven?

They are different species. See for yourself.

Rook, Corvus frugilegus http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co

Carrion crow, Corvus corone http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co

Common raven, Corvus corax http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/cohttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/co


Raven in Mythology

Originally published as "Murders and Unkindnesses" in the Samhain edition of "White Dragon", 1998.

© Samantha Fleming, 1998. Reproduced with the kind permission of the author.




For centuries the corvids, ravens and crows in particular (corvus corax is the Latin name for the common raven and corvus corone for the carrion and hooded crows), have had a special place in the mythology of various cultures. In modern times this fascination has barely diminished. From Edgar Allen Poe's literary classic to the film of James O'Barr's cult graphic novel "The Crow", these birds still exert a powerful hold over the psyche of a significant fraction of the population. The Goths who paint their faces with white make-up and the weekend warriors who expect Raven to take them to the Otherworld to meet the dead do not see the same animal as the farmers who set up decoys in order to shoot large numbers of them every year in late spring. This is, however, typical of a creature that presents a paradox wherever one looks.

Corvids are sociable birds. They tend to form social groups, and this can be seen particularly in the case of rooks, which stay in their flocks all year round. Ravens, the largest of the family, reaching as much as 3 feet from beak to tail, form groups as juveniles, pairing off into lifelong monogamous and extremely territorial relationships at around the age of three. The courtship can involve such fun and games as synchronised snow sliding, and, of course, the synchronised flight test. The corvids can be found all over the world, and are the largest of the passeriformae, or songbirds. The common raven is widely distributed throughout the Northern hemisphere, and the adaptability and intelligence of this family have made it extremely successful.

As far as the mythology goes, the first confusion arises over the distinction between Crow and Raven, at least on the European side of the Atlantic. The two appear, in many instances, to be interchangeable, and the appearance of one or the other in a story depends as much on which author is transcribing it as it does on story itself. Whereas John Matthews 1 gives Bran the raven almost exclusively, Miranda Jane Green 2 ascribes to the God's companion animal either the crow or the raven, much as both authors do for the Morrigan. The confusion on the American side of the Atlantic is not so profound. There is a distinct geographical trend in the likelihood of Raven appearing in a story, and so we will start our examination there.

Whereas ravens appear almost exclusively as signatory animals for deities in Europe, in the shamanic cultures of aboriginal North American tribes Raven appears as deity himself. From a dichotomy of cultures, we reach a dichotomy of characterisation, for Raven in America, particularly the Northwest coast region, is both demiurge and trickster, both hero and villain, and often at one and the same time. Raven appears as simple Raven, as Dotson' Sa (Great Raven), as Nankilstlas (He Whose Voice Must Be Obeyed) and also, in a Tlingit creation myth, as Nascakiyetl (Raven-at-the-Head-of-Nass, the Nass being a river). In nearly every single creation myth of the region I have encountered, Raven, in one of his guises, is either the actual creator of the world, or has a great part to play in it. In many, such as the Tlingit myth just mentioned, Raven appears in more than one of his guises - in this case both as Nascakiyetl, and as Yetl, the Raven. This is possible because of the personification of the animal characters in the culture. Animals can take on human form without a second thought (although Raven is the greatest shapeshifter of them all, being able to change into anyone and anything to get what he wants), and can also lead human style lives. Orca, for instance, is the Chief of his own underwater city, and the drowned go to live there with the killer whales, according to the Haida people.

Raven's character is very similar to that of Coyote - indeed, the two appear in stories carrying out very similar roles, the former in the North, the latter in the South. Both Coyote and Raven are driven by greed: Raven's for food, Coyote's for more carnal pleasures. A Tlingit storyteller says that "Raven never got full because he had eaten the black spots off his own toes. He learned about this after having inquired everywhere for some way of bringing such a state about. Then he wandered through all the world in search of things to eat." 3 The journeys of Raven form the basis of most of the myths in the region, and he travels around meeting animals of all descriptions and usually succeeds in contests of wit with them, either destroying and eating them or driving them off and securing their food. The Haida people make a distinction between the first part of the Raven cycle, in which he is truly creative, and the latter part, which consists of stories of his more risible behaviour. Young men are not allowed to laugh during the early part of the cycle, which is referred to as "The Old Man Stories". The Old Man Stories take in the creation of the world, sometimes a complex tale such as in the Tlingit and Tsmishian versions, sometimes a simple one, as in the Haida: "Not long ago no land was to be seen. Then there was a little thing on the ocean. This was all open sea. And Raven sat upon this. He said, 'Become dust.' And it became Earth." They also cover one of the most widely known Raven stories, how he stole the Sun, the Stars and the Moon, and also fire (reflecting on the corvine fascination for shiny objects), and the almost universal flood tale, which brought about the end of the Age of Animal Beings and brings about the Age of Men, for which Raven is invariably responsible.

In this guise, as Great Raven, Dotson' Sa, or Nankilstlas, the irrepressible greed is there, the sarcastic and laconic nature, the almost audible heavy sigh that starts off every conversation (see, for instance, Raven's first words in the story of the whale transcribed by Joseph Campbell 4 ), yet he is a character to be admired and respected, to whom homage is deserving. Although there is no evidence that Raven was ever worshipped, as such, it is said by some that the Northwest peoples did used to leave food out on the beaches for ravens. In this form he is capable of inspiring awe and terror, although always there is that twinkle in the eye and the knowledge that it can be only moments before he says something that will inspire laughter, albeit often irritated laughter as he hits the nail of truth well and truly, and sometimes uncomfortably, on the head. His creative nature usually shows itself through circumstance rather than intent, through the desire to satisfy his own needs, rather than any altruistic principles, but he seems genuinely fond of human beings, as related in "Raven finds the First Men" 5 , amongst others. He is the great shapeshifter, creative magick personified.

In his later, perhaps younger guise, Raven, or Yetl/Yelth, is often the butt of his own jokes; these are the stories in which Raven is often undertaking a position taken by Coyote in the desert and plains regions of the South. In this guise, Raven is at his most devious and tricky, is also cruel, with little thought for anyone or anything other than his own stomach. He will go to great efforts to satisfy his appetite, from tricking his cousin Crow out of his entire Winter's food supply, to tricking Deer into leaping onto some rocks so that he may be devoured, and even tricking an entire tribe into being killed by an avalanche so that he might eat their eyes 6 . He is the Raven at whom the young Haida men are allowed to laugh, but is also the Raven of whom to be most wary. He can be much crueller than his demiurge culture hero self. This Raven will have you in fits of laughter while he distracts you from the fact he is tricking you into doing something for him you may not actually want to do, and which may cost you dearly. This Raven is also a great shapeshifter, and uses his ability to aid him in deceiving others to do as he wishes.

Some of the stories do have Crow as the main character, and the main difference appears to be that Crow stories concern the themes of justice rather than greed, even if justice is not always seen to be done, as in the story of Raven and Crow's Potlatch, mentioned above.

The only time at which Raven's position in the Northwest coast culture bears any similarity to that in European culture is in his guise as one of the servants of the medicine lodge tutelary Baxbakualanuchsiwae, the Kwakiutl Cannibal Spirit, whose initiates practise ritual anthropophagy 7 . This is a comparatively recent trend in the culture, and is not widely mentioned.

By comparison, the ravens of European mythology are invariably messengers, or an alternate shape for various deities and spirits, the most widely known being Bran and the Morrigan, and of course Odin.

We are once again confronted by a dichotomy of character when we look at ravens and crows in European culture. Turning first to Odin's ravens. Huginn and Muninn, we see at once a split between active and passive roles. Huginn is Thought, and Muninn is Memory, and Odin sends these two birds off around the world at daybreak, to bring him the daily news. In Grimnismal, Odin says: "For Huginn I fear lest he return not home, but I am more anxious for Muninn". This suggests that Odin valued memory more than thought, the passive act rather than the active, but that is an altogether more complex discussion. Interestingly, Odin's wolves were Geri (no Spice Girl this, however) and Freki, whose names meant 'The Ravener' and 'The Glutton' respectively. Both of these terms are extremely applicable to ravens - ravener derives from raven - and echo the character of Raven in the tales of the Northwest Coast we have already considered. Wolves and ravens have an old and close relationship in the wild. In countries where both animals live together, a great deal of a raven's food comes from scavenging carcasses left by wolves, particularly in winter. Both animals would have been a common sight on the battlefield, scavenging on the bodies of the slain. Corvids were also connected with the Valkyries, as in "choughs of the Valkyries" 8 . Whether chough means chough (Latin name pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), in this case, or is an artistic rendering of raven, it is difficult to say. Valkyries may have been reflections of the "shield-maids" or skjald-meyer of the Huns, and it is worth pointing out that some sources state that the Irish battle Goddesses were not represented by ravens, but by the crow 9 , particularly the hooded crow, or "scald-crow" 10 .

Many of the Celtic goddesses are linked with the raven or crow. In this mythology the goddesses are the aggressive deities, those associated with war and death. Badb, Macha and Nemain are all associated with crows and/or ravens, as is Nantosuelta, a Gaulish water and healing goddess. The wife of the Fomorian sea-god, Tethra, was said to be a crow goddess who also hovered above battlefields, and Scottish myth has the Cailleach Bheure, who often appeared in crow form 11 . The association of the birds with death and war is an obvious reflection of its tendency to eat carrion, plenty of which is to be found in the aftermath of battle. This tendency led, eventually, to the persecution of the raven, as a harbinger of doom and destruction, and also to the common notion in modern European culture that the main attribute of Crow and Raven is their connection with the Otherworld. Upon Cuchulainn's death, the Morrigan perched on his shoulder in the form of a raven

The other main characteristic of Raven in Irish and Welsh myth is that of prophesy. The Morrigan was prone to prophesising, predicting the outcome of battle. King Cormac also came across the Badb as an old woman dressed in red garments (always a bad sign) who explained that she was washing the armour of a doomed king. Raven also acts as a messenger for the Irish/Welsh gods. Bran the Blessed (Bendigeidfran) is perhaps the best known of the Celtic gods associated with the raven, not least because of his association with the Tower of London, where ravens are still kept, wings clipped, in order to assure the safety of the realm. Bran's head, which he ordered to be cut off after being mortally wounded in the foot, is said to be buried i n the White Tower.

In "The Hawk of Achill" Cuchulainn's father, Lugh, is spoken of in association with ravens and crows. Ravens warned Lugh of the Formorians' approach. Ravens tended Cuchulainn when he was very ill, which is about the only time Cuchulainn appears to have had anything approaching a good relationship with the birds, save for when he was announced by two Druidic ravens on his entrance to Elysium 12 . He was responsible for killing a flock of magical sea ravens, which were large and able to swim in the sea (it is possible, from the description, that the birds were, in fact, cormorants, and not ravens at all. Cormorants also have a certain mythology associated with them). Also associated with ravens is the son of Cerridwen, Afagddu, who was also known as Morvran, or Sea Raven. Cerridwen 's intent had been to bestow the gift of Inspiration upon him.

A rather bizarre association is that of ravens and chess. In the Welsh "The Dream of Rhonabwy", Owain ap Urien and Arthur were playing a game which is thought to have been a chess equivalent. Three hundred ravens are mentioned in this tale as belonging to Owain, a gift from Cenferchyn. Arthur's men attacked the ravens during play, and eventually Owain told them to retaliate, upon which they attacked Arthur's men unmercifully. One of the pieces in chess is, of course, the rook, another member of the crow family (corvus frugilegus).

In Cervantes' "Don Quixote", the hero says that Arthur was not killed at all, but was turned into a raven. Arthur is also sometimes associated with the cult of Mithras, which was popular with the Roman legions. The cult organisation was based upon seven ranks that a worshipper could pass through, and the first of these was Raven. The raven, reprising his most common role in terms of masculine European mythology, was Ahura-Mazda's messenger and represented Mercury. Initiates are shown on frescoes and mosaics as holding a cup and the caduceus 13 . Also along these lines, Lugus was a Gaulish god of intelligence, and a mighty warrior. A relief from Senlis shows Lugus with ravens and geese, and the ravens appear to be speaking to him. Both Lugus and Odin are also linked with the Roman Mercury, bringing us to the connection between ravens and the art of the healer.

In nearly all cultures, the raven or crow was originally white. In one of the Greek tales, Coronis, the daughter of Phlegyes was pregnant by Apollo. Apollo left a white crow (or raven) to watch over her, but, just before the birth, Coronis married Ischys. The crow informed Apollo of this, and Apollo was not impressed. He killed Coronis and Ischys, and turned the crow black for being the bearer of bad news. Luckily, Apollo retrieved the unborn child at the funeral, for the child became Aesclepius, the father of medicine.

It is worth mentioning in passing Raven and Crow's appearances in other cultures, if only briefly.

Dwarves that live on the slopes of Kilimanjaro 13 are supposed to lay out bits of meat in banana-groves when sacrificing to their ancestors, and these bits of meat roll down the slopes and turn into white-necked ravens. In Japanese mythology, the Karasu tengu, or minor tengu, is a supernatural being with the head and wings of a black crow. They serve Daitengu, which are fallen yamabuse (monks), tall men with big noses and red faces who can create tornadoes using fans of bird feathers they carry in their sandals. Raven appears as one of the forms of the god Ninsubur in Semitic tales, and the raven, crow and rook all appear in the flood tale of Siberian myth, not one of them returning to the ark, as they were far too busy eating carcasses of drowned animals. For this they were cursed, as the dove was blessed for bringing back a twig, although it seems obvious that there had to be land somewhere if there were carcasses lying around. The Russian Lapps tell tales of the Seide, which are invisible spirits that have the power, like the dead, of appearing in the form of birds. They relate how a Seide often flew up out of a chasm in the mountains in the shape of a raven 14 .

It seems obvious, taking all these things into consideration, that the reputation of crow and raven for being dark messengers of doom, and concerned solely with death and destruction and the more black side of nature is ill-deserved. They do serve as couriers, it is true - an old Scots metaphor for death is talk of someone as having gone "awa' up the Crow Road" - but Raven has his wily beak into nearly everything, from the birth of medicine to the game of chess. The only thing you can be sure of with this character is that he is to be found at the extremities. In Haida mythology, it is even one of Raven's guises who determines the length of life of a new-born child. The constancy of Raven is his quest to fulfil an appetite - whether this be food, news, the sight of the slain on the battlefield, spirits of the dead for the Underworld, healing or prophecies of the future. The appetite is sometimes Raven's, sometimes that of the deity he signifies, but the appetite is always there. He is a creature of need, of want, of greed and gluttony, and can also demonstrate a possessive and jealous nature, but from that need and want, from the satisfaction of that appetite, great acts of creativity arise. Those acts of creativity, his greatest acts of magic, are not usually under his control, are not generally by his design, but arise through his attempts to satisfy the hunger he has. The animal seeking to sate his hunger on the dead, linking him with the Otherworld, is one and the same as that which tries to fill his belly with the farmer's crops, linking him with the 12-bore shotgun.

Raven can do almost anything, and will, but only if he gains by it. His smaller cousin, Crow, is a much more merciful and fair character. His concern is with justice, albeit oft times extreme justice, and he tempers Raven's greed in the European myths. Raven, in particular, is a creature of paradox, and to take him at face value is to ignore his devious nature.

One last point. The collective nouns for crows and ravens are murder and unkindness respectively. You have been warned.



REFERENCES:

1. (e.g.) John Matthews (1991): "The Celtic Shaman". Element Books, Earth Quest Series.

2. Miranda Jane Green (1993): "Celtic Myths". British Museum Press

3. Hartley Burr Alexander (1930): Mythology of All Races ,Vol X , North American, p258. Cooper Square Publishers, New York

4. Joseph Campbell (1968): "The Hero With a Thousand Faces". Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series XVII

5. As transcribed by Eldrbarry at http://www.seanet.com/~eldrbarry/rabb/rvn/

See also John E.Smelcer's "The Raven and the Totem", Anchorage, Alaska: A Salmon Run Book (1992)

6. Ibid.

7. Hartley Burr Alexander (1916): Mythology of All Races ,Vol X , North American, p248. Cooper Square Publishers, New York

8. John Arnott MacCulloch (1911): "The Religion of the Ancient Celts", Edinburgh

9. Miriam Robbins Dexter (1990): "Whence the Goddess - A Source Book". Pergamon Press, Athene Series

10. John Arnott MacCulloch (1930): Mythology of All Races, Vol II, Eddic, Cooper Square Publishers, New York

11. Marion Davies (1998): "Sacred Celtic Animals", Capall Bann

12. John Arnott MacCulloch (1930): Mythology of All Races, Vol III, Celtic, Cooper Square Publishers, New York

13. Alice Werner (1930): Mythology of All Races, Vol VII, African, Cooper Square Publishers, New York

14. Uno Holmberg (1930): Mythology of All Races, Vol IV, Finno-Ugric, Cooper Square Publishers, New York

 

Ritual of the Raven

By: Draig Tiernan of House Shadow Drake

This ritual has been adapted for demonstrative purposes by Draig Tiernan. This ritual was used exclusively within Hedge Traditions. It was not a ritual to be used lightly. This particular ritual is from a Welsh Hedge Tradition. Although the ritual is no longer in use today, it provides an excellent example of some of the older rituals which were historically utilized. The reader will also note how this ritual is very different from those utilized by Neo-Pagans today, and to some it may actually be viewed as somewhat abhorrent.
Some of the information for this ritual has been purposefully excluded, and in some cases changed, to prevent someone who is untrained from using this ritual.


During the time of Samhain, the ritual of the raven provided a method for the Hedgewitch to venture off into the Veils and exercise their Gods' given right to dwell between worlds. This ritual involved the capture of a raven that was then fed a strict diet of ritual short loaves (i.e. sweet bread) and consecrated water. The raven was sustained on this diet for no less than one week, and it was pertinent that the creature did not die during this time.

On the eve of Samhain, the raven was killed with a ritual cut that drained almost all of its blood. The blood was then added to a compound of earth, white lime, and sometimes woad as well. Two colors could be made from this mixture: black, and white. The raven was then gutted except for it's heart.

The raven was then stuffed with three different types of herbs. After it was stuffed, the raven was left on the altar in a circle of salt and herbs with a white linen cloth over it.

On the day of Samhain, the ritual of the raven begins when the moon reaches its zenith. The body of the Hedgewitch is coated with white lime and earth. The black compound that was previously prepared is painted across the eyes with two fingers and across the arms in four places. The white compound was representative of passing through the Veils, and the black compound symbolized the feathers of the raven that would carry the Hedgewitch across and back. When the body of the Hedgewitch was finally prepared, the raven was then placed on the fire and the rising smoke was inhaled. It is the herbs within the raven that caused the effect of flight, and so it was often best for a small fire to be used.

It was believed that the spirit of the raven was contained in the heart of the bird and when it was burned the spirit was released. The spirit of the bird was then inhaled and could allow the Hedgewitch to walk through the Veils.


Commentary by Draig Tiernan

This ritual has been in my Craft Family for more generations that I know of, and actually predates my Family. It was not performed by every Witch, but rather was reserved for those of Hedge Tradition. It was essential that only Hedgewitches performed this ritual as they were the only ones who were qualified and possessed the knowledge of all of the components necessary.

 

Just wanted to quickly interject that I do not condone the killing of Ravens. I posted this as a historical piece and if anyone is interested in preforming it is my recommendation that you sew a symbolic cloth Raven for these purposes. Thank you - Slaying Crow

Invocation of Raven by Susa Morgan Black

Morgana of the Dark Moon Night
Onyx bird, bold in flight
Raven, come to us now!

Keeper of the sacred well
Where the faerie spirits dwell
Raven, come to us now!

Guardian of the Blackthorn Tree
Home of the feared Banshee
Raven, come to us now!

Teacher of warriors, and of sex,
spells that heal and spells that hex
Raven, come to us now!

Bean Sidhe by the river bed
Washing shrouds of the newly dead
Raven, come to us now!

Twin birds of memory and thought
Who brought the knowledge Odin sought
Raven, come to us now!

Raven with his bag of tricks
Always getting in a fix
Raven, come to us now!

Stalwart guardian of the Land
The sacred bird of mighty Bran
Raven, come to us now!

Wise One of the Second Sight
Who foretells our human plight
Raven, come to us now!

Raven, Oldest of us All
Watch over us and hear our call
Raven, come to us now!

 

RAVEN SAYS…
Come with me into the void of all creation, into the blackness of the night and I will show you the deep magic that is yours to bring back to your earthwalk from the Great Mystery. I can show you the velocity of your own creative force and it is mighty, do not doubt that.

Those who are afraid of my power are afraid of their own. Those who embrace me and understand me have the gift of vision, wisdom, and a deep understanding of all relations. You can read the hearts and souls of others, often like a book. If you will follow me into the darkness and face your own shadow, you can bring this gift back with you into the light. And your ability to read the intentions and the thoughts of others will intensify and purify as you clarify your intentions.

Your high intelligence, your cunning and your skill and ability to craft and create is your greatest gift. Yet it is also your biggest weakness, for you do know a great deal, but you do not know it all. If you think you do, I will bring you before the onyx looking glass and ask you to look deep into it's dark, watery surface and all will be revealed. This I do to hone the shaman within you, the magi that is burgeoning to become known, not only to you, but to the world. There is much as yet unmanifested in the ethers awaiting you to give it form. To go here we must activate your imagination and you must trust me.

If Raven has come into your life, you can expect that your imagination will be sparked, and you can definitely expect many changes to begin to take shape within your life. Raven is all about creation...and sometimes in order to create, we must first relinquish old habits, lifestyles and ways of being. With Raven medicine you will be courageously led into the recesses of your inner self and be given not only the knowledge of what needs be done, but the wisdom and wherewithal to make those necessary changes. And although at times these journeys may be scary to undertake, they can be the most healing.

Change is part of the natural Wheel of Life, and this is all part of Raven's reputation of being an omen that foretells of death. He or she is there to help you foretell and render what must be destroyed in order to birth something new. This is an important element of the mysticism of Raven's own magick.

You are a shape-shifter. You can be at two places at one time. You may have 2 or even 3 different careers at once, but your passions lie in the act of creation. Your creativity is bound to your sexual force. So when you restrain one, you restrain the other. When you leak one, you waste the other. I can help you harness or set free your sexual energy whatever the case may be, for when you block or leak these energies this erodes your ability to create with true purpose and passion.

Everything that comes into manifestation begins in the void, in the womb of creation. In the dark recesses of our dreams lay the seeds of our light and so we must not be afraid to go to the dreamtime and claim what we want. Raven says, "Get on my back and reclaim the monster creativity that lies within! Let me take you to your deep magic, the wild, grand, grounded part of you that knows exactly what to do to manifest your greatest desires with courage, confidence and just a hint of craziness!"

 

RAVEN AFFIRMATIONS
I am a master at my craft.
I am a shape-shifter, easily flowing between the roles in my life.
My creativity is fueled by my passion for beauty and excellence.
I am a tender and confident lover.
I love my body and am comfortable in my own skin.
I am love.
I have the courage to open my heart to true love.
I am open to receiving love.
I give and receive love unceasingly, just as I breathe.
I believe that magic and miracles manifest through me.
I accept myself, exactly as I am in this moment.
I give myself enough quiet time to go into the void of my imagination.
I am in direct communion with my active imagination.
I allow myself to be cradled in the void of creation.
I receive inspiration and guidance from deep within.
I allow myself to feel the energy of my creative life force.
My sexuality is a beautiful, natural expression of my creative force.
I am a creator of love and life.
I honor all aspects of my body, mind and heart and soul.
I am free to express myself creatively with passion and enthusiasm.
I am a dreamer and a doer.
I allow my inner flame to ignite my passion to engage fully in my life.
I use my intelligence to discern and create with skill and insight.
My conscious awareness is finely tuned.
I have deep insight into my own soul.
I have the power to influence and heal the mind.

 

SYMBOLOGY

RAVEN TOTEMS
They slept until the black raven,
the blithe hearted
proclaimed the joy of heaven
- Beowulf

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.

"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.

Both Celtic and Druid Slànaighear (Healer) and Native American shamans use Raven's spirit for healing, especially long distance healing. When doing a healing circle for an absent friend, the energy can be sent in the form of a raven.

If you are working directly with someone who is ill, you can use raven feathers to stroke their body, collecting and drawing out the negative energy, to be shaken out and cleansed later. Raven is powerful medicine.

GEMSTONES
Onyx, Jet, Aqua Aurora, Hematite, Ruby, Garnet

 

RAVEN INTELLIGENCE

At Oxford University in England, ornithologists conducted an unusual experiment with two New Caledonian Crows named Betty and Abel, reported in the August 9, 2002 issue of the journal Science. They placed a tiny bucket of meat inside a pipe, and left two pieces of wire in their cage, one hooked and one straight, to see if the birds would choose the hooked wire to retrieve the bucket of meat, proving that birds were "tool users" on a par with higher levels of animal intelligence.

"We were delighted and extremely surprised" reported Alex Kacelnik, one of the bird experts studying the crows, when Abel stole the hooked wire from Betty, and rather than giving up, Betty "modified" the straight wire into a hooked wire, and was thus able to hook the bucket, pull it up, and retrieve her snack. This elevates ravens from "tool users" to "tool makers", which places them on a par with primates.

According to neurologist Stanley Cobb, birds do not have a complex cerebral cortex, such as mammals do, but rather, they have developed their hyperstraiatum, a part of their forebrain, that can carry out complex functions. Corvids, especially Ravens, Crows, and Magpies, have the largest brain size (i.e. the largest number of brain cells) among birds, including the largest hyperstriatum.

 

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