Thursday, May 10, 2007

Raven, Enigmatic Pagan Symbol

I found this at Suite 101 -- it might give some insight into my fascination with Raven. I tend to identify more with the indigenous views on Raven -- the Europeans had a definite bias against any black bird.

Raven, Enigmatic Pagan Symbol
Feathered Kin: Symbol of Magick, Creation, Healing and Protection

To Shamanic people of many cultures, Raven was, for the most part, beneficial. To the superstitious and some of orthodox religions, the bird was an ill omen.

Raven the Bird

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.

Old World Pagan Raven Symbolism and Superstitions

Bran is the Celtic word for Raven, ubran is the Welsh name. Raven symbolizes protection, initiation and healing. It brings in deep healing and signifies the death of one thing to bring in the birth of another. Raven’s other attributes are eloquence, change in consciousness, wisdom, messages from spirit and something unexpected, but beneficial would happen soon. Raven was believed to be not totally trustworthy, so Celts were careful in working with it.

In the Germanic-Norse tradition, Waelceasig, Raven, was connected to death. Slain warriors were deemed to be feeders of Raven.

People in Cornwall believed that a raven cawing above a house meant good fortune was coming. Sailors believed that killing a raven was to bring ill fortune. Scottish hunters believed Raven’s raucous calls meant a successful hunt.

Ravens live in the Tower of London. The English believe that if they leave the tower, disaster will fall upon the country. They left the tower before the bombings began in England during World War II. The birds were reintroduced to the tower after the war ended and have been kept there since then and have a Ravenmaster who cares for them. Their wings are clipped so they cannot fly away.

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that to hear Raven’s caw was an omen of death. Sightings of the turnfalkens, ravens, and hearing their calls was a death omen to the Hapsburgs, the ruling family of the Austro/Hungarian Empire. Christians of that era believed that evil priests became ravens when they died.

Native American Raven Beliefs

AmerIndians associated Raven with magick, a powerful medicine or power that gives courage to enter the void, the Great Mystery where Great Spirit resides. When Raven appears, there will be a positive change in consciousness. Raven guards ritual magick and healing.

Raven brought light into the darkness of the world and transformed and created part of Maka, Mother Earth. He named plants and taught animals.

Raven is the hallmark of shape-shifting. Raven could see all and find things that are hidden.

Some tribes believe that Raven is Trickster like Coyote and Crow. Raven is teacher out outwits himself, being fooled by his shenanigans.

Raven, in accordance with Celtic symbolism, is believed to be a sign that something special, but unexpected will happen.


Michael said...

Ravens get a bad rap in modern Japan, too. I lived in a rural farming area on the Pacific coast, due east of Tokyo. During planting and harvesting season, it was quite common to see ravens that had been shot for foraging in fields tied to stakes as a "warning" to other ravens that might try the same thing. Walking in the countryside, there was no doubt in my mind what the occasional shotgun blast signified.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I was doing a search for the meaning of three ravens, and this was the most helpful by far.

Malicious Intent said...

I came across your site while looking for photos of Ravens. I am pagan but I also have native american roots and the Ravan is my animal totem or native american astrological "symbol." I have always been facinated with them myself and enjoy watching them in the fall.

I am looking for photos because I have decided my next tattoo would be a raven, but I have not decided exactly how I want to represent it.
Any ink I get must have deep significant meaning to me.

I'll book mark you and read more later when I have time.