The Misunderstood Raven
Darkness or the light
Black or White
Bad or Good
Despair and Death
As they take their final breath
To all those who died
Or an Omen of tomorrow
Cras, Cras, Cras
A messenger for the gods
Or maybe even a god
Not darkness just the light
Outside black yet inside white
Not all bad but instead good
Look beyond what you see
As does a raven
Muttering cras cras cras
Look tomorrow and be hopeful
For the raven is a symbol of many
Through many cultures we see a raven as a harbinger of death, and a creature of ill will. Often times a raven is portrayed as a trickster.
This isn’t like that in every culture or in certain mythologies. In many mythologies and religions also there are stories of why the raven that is black like death now was before a beautiful white bird.
The once beautiful raven was a messenger for the Greek god Apollo. Some believe that the raven was the talisman for which Apollo derived power for his prophecies and in some stories people believe that Apollo would take on the form of a raven. Then the raven faltered, so Apollo cursed it causing its feathers to turn black for the rest of the ravens existence.
The vikings revered the ravens. They put them on their banners and their crests. When one roosted on their house they thought that it was good luck. They put so much belief into the power of ravens because of their association with the Norse Gods, both Odin’s Hugin and Munin and the Valkryie.
The most common association that ravens have with Norse mythology is the two that are shown sitting on Odin’s shoulders; Hugin (thought) and Munin (mind/memory). For Odin these two ravens would set out everyday and scour the world for information to bring back to Odin every evening. The two ravens were also the reason for Odin’s ability to predict the future.
Another way that ravens are associated with Norse mythology is through the Valkyrie, Odin’s daughters. Who would work with the ravens to decide the fate of warriors and bring them back to Valhalla. Some even believed that the Valkyrie could even take the form of the raven.
In christianity and most religions we hear of their selfishness associated with the great flood and Noah’s Ark. They were the first bird sent off to try to find land and to bring back proof to Noah, but they never returned due to their greed; they were too busy feeding off the flesh of all of the drowned/dead animals. Due to their greed they were cursed to having all of their food procured with great difficulty. However they were also sometimes commanded by God. Such as when God commanded the ravens to help Paul or when he commanded ravens to bring Elijah “bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening.” (1 Kings 17:3-6) or when Jesus was being crucified on the mount God commanded them to peck the eyes out of the one thief. However their association with evil they also were associated with some good, such as St. Vincent whose symbol was a raven. In religion they are a contradiction they represent greed but also can represent the holy hermits.
In the Irish Celtic ravens had a strong underlying meaning of death but they also prophecy. Both the goddess Babd and the goddess Morrigan who both were connected to the raven had the gift of prophecy.
In Haida myth there is a raven that is a cunning trickster, but this raven is also a creator raven because he was the reason that all the light was brought to the world. The raven may have been a creator but did so in a trickster way. However, nonetheless the raven is responsible for the light in the world.
An indigenous group of russians that lived on the peninsula Kamchatka. They believed in a raven god, Kutkh. They believe that Kutkh is the creator of everything. They put so much power into Kutkh that some of them believe that land was created by his feces and water from his excreted waters.
Yatagarasu, a three legged raven associated with divinity. Is a solar symbol that represented the three stages of the sun, when it was rising, at noon, and when it was setting. This was partly stemmed off of that a raven’s feathers can glisten with different colors throughout the stages for example, when the sun is setting the feathers can have a silver/gray glisten. Yatagarasu was also a guide to one of their revered emperors.
There was also the Shintu goddess, Amaterasu that would transform into a raven.
Throughout multiple different cultures and mythologies ravens have represented good aspects of being. They represent clairvoyance, telepathy, and are guides for those lost and the departed. They can even be gods that are responsible for creation. In Irish Celtic mythology there is a saying “to have a raven’s knowledge” which means to have the ability of a seer. Ravens can be representations of wisdom, and healing. They are looked upon as one of the oldest and wisest of the animal kingdom. In a once popular tv show, One Tree Hill, a character Lucas Scott said, “Some people believe that ravens guide travelers to their destinations. Others believe that the sight of a solitary raven is considered good luck while more than one raven together predicts trouble ahead.”
Ravens have multiple meanings, both good and bad. They are a smart bird that can even be taught how to speak. Yet ravens are often are looked down upon because of a couple of reasons, they feed on carrion, and they are black. Looking beyond the myths one can see the cleverness and the intelligence that ravens possess.
Fleming, Samantha. “Raven in Mythology.” Raven in Mythology. 1998. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
Kelly, Debra. “10 Crows And Ravens From World Religion – Listverse.” Listverse. 01 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
VIenneau, Larry. “Raven Artwork , Raven, Crow, Three Legged Crow, Etching 5 Inch X 7 Inch 2011.” Etsy. 28 Dec. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.