Raven’s journey has been interwoven with humanity since the dawn of recorded time. Figures identifiable as Ravens or Crows appear in the Lascaux caves in Southern France, dating back 17,000 years.
In European cultures, Raven is frequently depicted as a helper or messenger for the Deities. And in many stories, Raven is a foreboding omen of death.
In native North American and Shamanistic cultures, Raven is the Deity itself. Seen either as the actual creator of the world, or having a great part to play in its creation. Raven is the trickster god. A mischief maker with a twinkle in his eyes, who can either be Hero or Villain.
There are many myths and legends about ravens across cultures and time. The following are just a few favorites. If you have any you'd like to share, please send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Raven takes the sun, the moon, and the stars
Native American cultures have many stories of Raven getting what he wants, including the sun, the moon, and the stars. Long ago people lived in the dark and crawled on their hands and knees to gather wood for fire - their only source of light. A greedy chief had captured the sun, moon, and stars, and kept them locked up in his great lodge.
But Raven was smart. He knew that everyday the chief’s daughter visited a nearby stream to collect water. One day Raven turned into a tiny minnow and swam into the girl's bucket. When she drank, he went inside her body and grew into a baby boy.
The chief was elated when his daughter gave birth and loved the baby more than anything. But the baby was spoiled, and cranky. Everyday he would say, “I want that to play with that,” pointing to the sun hanging high in the chief’s lodge. “I want that to play with that,” he said pointing to the moon hung in the far corner. “I want to play with those,” he said, motioning to the stars hanging above.
Finally the chief relented and gave the boy what he wanted. When the chief left the room, the boy turned back into Raven and flew out the great chimney, taking everything with him and returning light to the people.
Noah sent ravens before doves
When the storm let’s up. When the snow retreats. When the break in the clouds align with the sphere of the sun, is that what is was like for Noah, when the 40 days and 40 nights of rain were over, and the ark gained footing on Mt Ararat?
Did you know that Noah sent a pair of ravens to look for land first, before he sent the doves? It’s true.
But Noah forgot that Ravens are Care Free creatures. They didn’t come back. What was Noah thinking? Cunning mischief makers confined to a boat with a large group of stinky animals . . . for a month and half . . . Clearly, he should have known better.
Odin Huginn and Muninn
But not all ravens of yore were that undisciplined. Fast forward to the 13th century Norse texts, and stories of Odin - the great Nordic God.
Odin is the supreme father of all the other nordic gods. By his side were two ravens, Huginn (representing thought), and Muninn (representing memory). Together they served as Odin’s eyes and ears to the world, flying across the land by day to bring news from the kingdom at night.
Privately, Odin worried that one day his ravens would not return. Was he concern that the kingdom would fall? Or was the kernel of doubt planted in his mind, when he read the story of Noah?
Raven used to be white
Raven used to be white, pure white. A fresh fallen snow white. A white so clean, that when new snow came the only traces raven left behind where her shadows and footprints. And if you were fortunate, you could see the soft impressions of her wings in the snow. Impressions so delicate and so gentle, that the lightest breeze would carry them away when you turned your back.
Apollo turns raven black
In Greek mythology, the God Apollo, gave White Raven a task of vital importance - guarding over his lover Coronis while she was pregnant with his son. Coronis was a princess of unsurpassed beauty. But she was not faithful to her divine lover, and cast her affections to a mortal prince. When raven returned with the news of the infidelity, Apollo was so angry, that in his fury he scorched Raven’s feathers as black as the blackest night.
Edgar Allan Poe introduced us his Raven In 1845.
“Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a Stately Raven of the saintly days of yore”
Giving us The Raven, forevermore.
The Tower of London
In England, the Tower of London has been occupied by ravens for centuries. To this day it is said that if the ravens ever leave the tower, the kingdom will fall. At least 6 ravens currently occupy the Tower of London, and their wings have been clipped to ensure there will be no flying away.
‘If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were,” said the poet and philosopher, Khalil Gibran.
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