Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Quoth the Raven...

If you are fascinated with ravens, read incessantly about them, observe them in nature, can recognize their unique voice, collect their feathers, collect raven art and artifacts, and know their literature and folklore from around the world, you are probably an amateur CORVIDOLOGIST, which is the branch of Ornithology specializing in RAVENS and their family. And magically speaking, Raven is your totem.
Raven is a member of the corvid family as are crows, magpies, blue jays and others. They are intelligent animals. Two wild ravens helped a captive one escape by digging a hole from outside of its cage while the one inside dug from there. They can be taught to talk. Ravens are playful and have learned to use tools. They employ stones and other hard objects to crack nuts. Ravens, scavengers, are found globally. Zoologists have found they are more beneficial than destructive to the environment. The only difference between a raven and a crow is the size. The former is the larger one.

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.
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.

Raven is a contrary spirit. On the negative side, Raven represents the profane, the devil, evil spirits, the trickster and thief, war and destruction, death and doom, the void. Yet in many cultures Raven also represents deep magic, the mystery of the unknown, death and transformation, creation, healing, wisdom, protection, and prophecy.

Raven is both the symbol of the sun, and the symbol of a moonless night. She is the birth giving light in the center of our galaxy, and the black hole in the center of the universe, to which we are all traveling to our eventual extinction.

Raven is the fatal touch of the Calleach in winter, the wisdom of Odin, the vessel of prophecy given to a seer, the mighty protector of the Western Isles, and the healing message of an Indian shaman.

Raven is a complex bird, both in nature and in mythology.

Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning
May bear the raven's eye -
Cymberline, by William Shakespeare


  1. My SIL has a penchant for these birds and is currently nursing a wounded one back to health. It is probably one of the ones she raised which returned to her, place of sanctuary, out of instinct. Raven created the world in the legends of many Northwest coastal tribes. They are one of the few creatures known to outsmart humans. Wolves and corvids have a long hunting association. Crows and ravens will mob an eagle to scare it away from nesting sites.

  2. ravens are fascinating things, thanks for gathering all this info together, interesting!!

  3. Oooh, loved this post! Thanks for visiting me. :) The other morning I looked out my window on my deck and a crow was on the railing looking directly at me (almost as if it was looking at me while I slept). I dont' know how to take that. I'm hoping it's more about the magickal side. :)

  4. Woops...it's Michelle again. The comment above was supposed to be from my Vintage Sage blog....that's my other blog I posted from but feel free to visit me there too!

  5. Thanks for the comment(s)! I love both your blogs!