Magic is in the air when Raven is present. The other day while at the coffee shop I was looking out the widow at the parking lot. High above everything perched on top of the tall light pole sat a bird. His outline fully formed against the light blue sky. It is a rather large size black bird with a prominent beak. He intrigued me so I watched him for a while.
Was he a Crow or a Raven? A Raven for sure. A Raven is a member of the Crow family but a larger king-size cousin. This fellow was big. Two small birds joined him. They moved to the outer parameters of the light standard giving the Raven a wide berth. Crows and Ravens are the smartest of all birds having outwitted other birds, animals and humans from time to time. There are lots of Myths and stories about them. Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem called, The Raven.
They are kept at the Tower of London, England. The Tower of London is located on White Hill and one legend tells of the Ravens always living there. Another legend is that after the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Tower was rebuilt and the ravens arrived. The British believe that “It is very unlucky to kill a Raven” and so they keep them as good luck symbols. The Tower Ravens are cared for by a Keep. Each Raven is named, fed and treated like a soldier. The Tower Ravens live to be 40 years old. Besides having one wing’s flight feathers clipped away, they have free rein of the Tower and the grounds. A Raven can be dismissed from the Tower grounds for “Conduct unbecoming of a Tower resident.” Otherwise, the Raven’s live a comfortable life.
In Rome, the Raven is associated with the God Apollo, the god of prophecy. They are considered good luck and a messenger from heaven who speaks to us. One myth tells the story of why Ravens are black. In the story Ravens were as white as swans. One day a Raven brought bad news to Apollo who in his anger turned the Raven black. Since then all Ravens are black.
In Norse tradition, the God Odin had two Ravens who were his messengers. Odin could shape-shift into a raven. In Biblical lore, the prophet Elijah was fed by Ravens and Crows while hiding in the wilderness. To the Athapaskan Indians of Alaska, Raven was the creator of the world.
Ravens are symbols of watchfulness. They often perch high in the trees and can see for miles. Their Croak sound is so jarring that all can hear. They can be taught to speak and are members of the songbird family . They have quite a range of vocalizations but they do not sing.
In many ways, the Raven is an animal that plays the confusing role of the trickster and the wise one. Raven is comparable to the Coyote tales told by the Plains Indians. In the Pacific North West, the Raven has this same aura about him. Raven stole the sunlight and gave it to the people of the Earth. He is playful and an excellent tool user. He cracks open nuts using stones. In fact, many folks believe that Raven knows he is smart. He has chosen to remain a crows rather then move on to some other area of evolution. Raven is associated with creation. The color of night, he brings forth the new day. He is the light bringer.